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Wednesday, December 01, 2004

As I mentioned, I've been spending time at Online this week. There are several blogs about it already such as InfoToday. I moderated a session called Eureka! which is a questions and answers session, and I thought it might be interesting to blog the questions asked and answers given.

On the panel were: Chris Sherman, Mary Ellen Bates, Karen Blakeman and Gary Price.

What's the most important development in internet search in 2004?
CS: True alternatives to Google are now becoming apparent, with smaller niche players getting more involved.
MEB: Slider bars!
KB: RSS Feeds, and the website for business information.
GP: Sliders, search shortcuts and a new search engine called Exalead

How have your search strategies changed over the last year?
MEB: I don't start with general search engines now; I'm doing more resource discovery. I don't look for the answer, I look for where it can be found, and I'll be searching blogs more often.
KB: I use evaluated listings more often, and when I use search engines I've found that using file format based searching is more effective.
GP: I go to source when possible, and use non commercial resources such as the Resource Discovery Network, Infomine and the Librarian's Index to the Internet.
CS: Searching has changed dramatically because of the Google Desktop function.

What do the panel think of the Google Desktop function?
CS: Users have very little control over it, which is a legitimate concern, but it works well in a personal context. Although there are security concerns, the Desktop is just enabling functionality; it's down to individual companies to properly protect data and improve the security of their own products.

KB: If you're a Microsoft junkie that's great, but since I use a lot of non-Microsoft products, it's not much use. Copernic is a good alternative.
GP: I use both Google and Copernic, and Google is good for storing and delivering different versions of the same document.
MEB: I like Google Desktop, and use it, but since I use Eudora as my email client, it's not much use for that.

What do the panel think of the new Google Scholar?
KB: Disappointing. There is no proper listing of what is covered, it's not sophisticated and there is limited search capabilities.
GP: Credit to Google for doing it, and it's maybe a bit of a wakeup call for librarians. It's poorly named though; better would have been Google Library.
CS: It's a promising start.
MEB: It's great for librarians, if they can introduce their clients to it, and frame it in a proper context.

Any views on clustering search engines?
GP: Clusty is a good example. They're good for providing some extra value and helping with information discovery.
KB: Vivisimo is an excellent tool, and the one that I generally use when using a clustering engine.
MEB: I find them really useful when a search is going astray and I need to rethink my search strategy.
CS: Grokker is a good visualisation tool.

What are your favourite new search engines?
GP: Exalead is very good indeed, and I've also found that is worth using as well.
KB: Not a new search engine, but Yahoo, and the use of their RSS feeds are really excellent.
MEB: A9 is very useful and has a lot of functionality.
CS: The Yahoo! directory function has been reworked this year and is very valuable.

Any strategies or views on searching the invisible web?
CS: There are a lot of people who are working on this problem at the moment, and the invisible is still between 2-50 times larger than the visible web, and I wonder if it is actually a good idea to increase that visibility?
GP: Many people are still doing very simple searches, and one could argue that the invisible web is actually anything that is outside the top 5 results in a search engine! A good resource to use is
MEB: People have to have a different mindset, and to start thinking laterally. Teoma is useful for resources and providing access to link rich pages that lead to useful invisible web sites.
KB: I find using the link: function is a really good way of finding who is linking to a site, and that often leads me to very good sites with invisible content.

Well, that's a very brief summary of what we talked about; my apologies to the panel if I've summarised and cut short all their useful comments, and I hope that I've kept them in context. Any omissions or inacuracies are mine.
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