Beyond Search Engines

Here’s the next to last panel. According to John Dove, CEO of xrefer , there’s a Google Debate going on online, initiated by xRefer founder Adam Hodgkin. Now John’s wondering about the reference experience of the future and how gaming the system affects quality of results. He thinks that socially produced information changes the modalities of discovery and makes it difficult for researchers to know where to start.

Ryan Massie, senior product manager for Ask Jeeves , shows the newer, slimmer butler, but more importantly talks about how Ask is moving from keywords to concepts. His example is bears, which might be animals, investors, or a sports team. With Smart Search, you get different presentations of results, based on your previous search history. Teoma realizes on expert popularity, communities of experts, and on hubs and authorities. It allows for iteration. Jeeves would like to move people beyond the "ten blue links" experience.

Now it’s R.J. Pittman, CEO of Groxis , who’s showing a really cool way to visually see the books available on a topic at Barnes & Noble. His example is The Beatles. Groxis shows the covers of the books sorted by topic. "Sometimes you can judge a book by its cover," says R.J. You can adjust results by price and date, using sliders. Visualization makes information more accessible. This is part of Web 2.0. R.J. also shows a still-in-development project that Groxis is working on with Ask. Again, the concept of digital concept maps gives a new dimension to search.

As this session progresses, I’m pretty sure that if Groxis had had a little green button in its booth that said "I grok Ask," R.J. would have been wearing it. Likewise for Ryan, but his would have been "Ask groks Groxis."

This is the last session before Stephen Abram’s endnote talk.

Marydee Ojala
Editor, ONLINE: The Leading Magazine for Information Professionals

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