Archive | November, 2005

Still Walking the Line

In which BQ further discusses some stands to check out and speculates on what Google is doing at this conference. She also mentions some vendors not exhibiting and suggests alternative stands you might wish to visit.

Click here to hear the whole story, and contact Barbara at

Awards Ceremony

OK, the last post gave you the facts on the awards. It didn’t give the flavor of the awards. So here’s my take — and it’s purely personal, so you’re completely free to disagree. The awards are UK-centric. I was at a table with all British persons and they knew many of the award winners and the shortlisted organizations. I didn’t. My French colleague at another table didn’t. Most of the people attending the banquet were British. (And my table independently voted adjacent Table 4, whoever was sitting there, as the biggest yobs of the evening, for their loud talk throughout the presentations and their ability to detract from the formal surroundings by acting more like football louts than information professionals.)

Many of the awards were highly deserved. In my opinion, the addition of Martin White to the list of those receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award is truly inspired. He deserves every bit of it. I did manage to capture a photo of Martin with last year’s winner, Carol Tenopir.

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

A Review of Desktop Search Tools

At ITI’s Internet Librarian 2005 conference, searching expert Ran Hock told us which desktop search tool he likes best. Check the archives of this blog for October 23-29 to read a summary of his presentation, or click to hear Ran’s opinion.

Has anything changed since October? Are there any new developments in desktop search engines? For that we turn to a review by Karen Blakeman of RBA Information Services. She listed some features one must consider in choosing a desktop search tool:

• Document formats supported,
• Control over types of files or folders indexed,
• Memory usage, index time, index pause options,
• Searching features,
• Usability, and
• Security and privacy.

Karen’s review found the following for some popular desktop search tools:

AskJeeves: Much improved. Good on multimedia, particularly videos.
Blinkx: Also much improved. Includes support for Lotus Notes, Eudora, and Outlook. It offers a nice visualizer and can monitors web sites visited and list them on a sidebar.
Copernic: Has a nice preview. Can do nested search, and can switch to web search quickly. Copernic’s advanced search screen is very good.
Exalead OneDesktop: The desktop tool incorporates all features of their web search engine, such as truncation, a NEAR operator, etc.
Google: Now incorporates a built-in sidebar. A wide variety of file types can be searched using plugins. Some issues with Google’s desktop search: The cache retains copies of files even after they are deleted, and the Remove command is not foolproof. It is resource hungry even on the newest machines. And the user cannot control when it starts its indexing process, so it can interrupt other work on the PC.
MSN: Like Google, it uses plugins for file type support. The preview window is very primitive and just presents the user with a jumble of run-on text. This is probably because Microsoft plans to integrate desktop search into the next version of Windows and has not devoted any resources to MSN search.
Yahoo: Offers the most comprehensive file type support.

So what’s Karen’s bottom line? She didn’t definitely identify any desktop tool, saying that it depends on the type of information you have and how you store it on your PC. She recommends trying out several desktop search tools before deciding. However, I have the feeling that Karen agrees with Ran Hock because she said that she uses Yahoo!’s tool because of its support for many file types.

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today

What Is Search About?

Well, it’s about search, right? Not necessarily. As Internet consultant Phil Bradley explained, we use the Web for a whole range of activities: searching, e-mail, blogging, finding where we are, travel information, personal things, news, communication, chat…and on it goes. So how important are search engines in this milieu? Phil thinks they’re not very important. There are lots of them, and no single one is best.

Search engines want people to use them, so they are trying to find killer applications to retain users. For example, Google has toolbars, newsgroups, Gicasa, gmail, desktop search, Google Print, Google Scholar, etc. (Similar capabilities are available in MSN.) The whole aim of this is to get users to use a lot of products from one company. Phil maintains a blog that keeps up with the increasing activity in the earch areas.

Search is becoming mobile. Now we can search for people, multimedia, and even space. Chips are coming into everything! We will be able to locate friends, search our desktop, keep up to date, never get lost, and be aware of our surroundings. Today, people want tailored answers without having to look for anything. We are all information resources. Everything can be digitized—sound, photos, video, journals, and music—and made available to you, me, or all of us. We want to share what we find with other people.

So the bottom line is that search is becoming more important, ubiquitous, and invisible. It is forecast that by 2015, 75% of mobile phones will be Internet-capable, so search will be everything and everywhere.

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today

International Information Industry Awards

Tonight’s gala banquet featured Sir Trevor MacDonald, an ITV news presenter, in the role of award presenter. Here’s a list of the winners:

The Annalie Vickers and Jeremy Lakin Young Achiever Award: Ben Lund, Nature Publishing Group
Innovation in Content Management: European Agency of Safety and Health at Work
Innovation in Knowledge Management: National Institute for Mental Health in England knowledge community
Best Intranet/Extranet Project: FirstStop 2, NSPCC Intranet
Best Implementation of a Business Blog: UK FOIA blog
CILIP/Online Information Personal Development Award: Jessica Warner, Kingston College
FreePint Award for Best Customer Service Team: Bureau van Dijk
Best STM Information Product: Scopus
Best User Experience: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography online edition
Best Business Information Product: Euromonitor’s Global Market Information
Best Specialist Search Product: ProQuest SmartSearch
Best Team in an Academic Environment: Canterbury Christchurch University,Knowledge is Power Project
Best Team in a Business Environment: Yell Commercial Data Team
Best Team in the Public Sector: Royal College of Nursing Library and Information Services Team
The CILIP Jason Farradane Award: Michael Koenig, Long Island University (who was not present to accept the award)
IWR Readers Award for Technology of the Year: Wikipedia (Jimmy Wales also was not present to accept the award, but was present by video, filmed earlier in the day after his talk this morning)
IWR Information Professional of the Year Award: Euen Semple, BBC
Lifetime Achievement Award: Martin White, Intranet Focus and the Online Information conference chair

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

Chapters from U.K.’s Past

Instead of letting historical books and papers fall victim to the ravages of time, ProQuest Information and Learning is continuing its efforts to digitize some U.K. treasures. In fact, ProQuest will have preserved nearly 10 million pages when it completes archiving The House of Commons Parliamentary Papers from the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. Users of all research abilities can see first hand the government’s actual working documents, from census reports and battles plans from past wars to the Treaty between H.M. and Argentine Confederation for Abolition of Slave Trade.

Amazingly enough, the labor-intensive archiving process has been completed quickly. Earlier this year, ProQuest started indexing 19th-century House of Commons Parliamentary Papers, and by August, full text was added for the years 1840-1859. By the end of 2005, the full-text archive will reach to the year 1889. Documents include bills, committee reports, command papers, commissioners’ reports, among other records. Preserving these primary sources lets researchers get a chance to see "original" charts, maps, and illustrations via high-quality scans along with the text.

Barbara Brynko, Editor in Chief
Information Today

Scopus, one year on.

Amanda Spiteri, Marketing Director of Elsevier’s bibliographic databases gave me a run down on the four most recent key additions to Scopus. Scopus was launched at Online last year and is now claimed to be the world’s largest abstract and citation database of research information – 14,000 titles.

The new features include chemical structure search capability across the entire file, full integration of CSA’s RefWorks, a new advisory board comprising 20 leading scientists and 10 librarians, and links added to full text articles in the JSTOR archive.

Spiteri tipped that a significant enhancement is due to be announced at ALA in January. While no specifics were given, the development will relate to the analysis of Scopus search results.

Jim Ashling
Ashling Consulting
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CILIP President Shares Views on WSIS, Open Access

When I interviewed Deborah Shorely, the president of CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, U.K.) today, I didn’t need to ask very many questions.

Deb, who is Librarian at the University of Sussex in Brighton, began by telling me that her theme as CILIP president this year is, "access to information and working partnerships."

"My line," she explained, "is that I don’t terribly care who sells who, what, how. I just want people to get the right information to do the right things at the right time. I’m not, in a sense, interested in the mechanisms or the processes. But I’m very interested in making sure that the information is uncompromisingly good."

I asked what she thought the barriers to access were, and at this point we discovered we had a topic of interest in common.

Without prompting, she started to relate her experience in representing CILIP on the IFLA delegation to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) last month. Since I had covered the WSIS story for ITI, my ears perked up. [The next paragraph is linked to Information Today’s Summit coverage.]

"I’ve just come back from WSIS," Deb said. "I was in Tunis and I was also in the seminar in Alexandria for the IFLA pre-summit . . . and the PrepCom in Geneva."

She noted that WSIS fit her presidential theme, that everyone get the right information at the right time in the right way, but, she said, "I come back from Tunis rather troubled by the whole experience."

As a member of the IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations) delegation, Shorley was in Tunis to represent CILIP’s thoughts about what IFLA’s position should be. The ultimate IFLA position turned on the theme that libraries represent existing mechanisms for advancing the global information society, without requiring a totally new infrastructure.

"The quality and quantity and availability of the information is what matters," she said. "The connectivity will happen one way or the other. But, it would be quite nice if it wasn’t dominated by Murdoch, and dare I say?, the U.S.A."

She described the involvement of the U.S. Government [via ICANN and in regard to control over root servers] as "very, very problematic." Outside the U.S., she said, "people are a little bit twitchy about it."

She noted that, "Without WSIS a lot of other things can’t happen, but it isn’t going to do a whole lot in itself . . .

"I think there are also serious financial barriers," Deb continued. "We in the U.K., complain terribly about the cost of [print] subscriptions and online subscriptions, because they are eating into our declining budgets dreadfully . . . But then when you go to what we now call the South—-the developing world—-and you realize what they’re trying to wrestle with, I think it’s rather obscene for us to complain . . . I think the whole publishing model is a barrier to open access to information."

She called Open Access publishing a "very interesting" development.

"It’s got some way to go, and it’s a long game," she observed. "But if you and I were talking even five years hence, I think the whole publishing model will have changed. I have to believe that, because, otherwise, there will be real barriers to knowledge, which will compromise everything. If you don’t have the information to do the research, you can’t do it."

Dick Kaser
ITI V.P., Content

Watch for my complete intereview with Deb Shorley in an upcoming issue of Information Today.

Thomson Scientific and Healthcare Update

Given that you can’t be in several places at once, the next best thing is to attend a Thomson Scientific and Healthcare Update Meeting to get a press briefing on developments with ISI Web of Knowledge, Thomson Pharma, Thomson Data Analyzer, Derwent World Patents Index and Dialog.

Many readers may remember Dialog Updates – events where database producers competed for a small amount of audience time to present their latest feature or boast the arrival of the n millionth bibliographic record. Today, things are a little different. Now Dialog gets a few moments to reveal its developments under the even larger Thomson banner.

No less impressive for all that though. Tim Hamer, VP and Dir. of European Business development set the scene for this marathon 2.5 hour review of new services and enhancements with the vision that Thomson wants to be: “The global leader for integrated information solutions for the business and professional user.” The strategy to achieve that is to move from being purely a content provider to being a content and service and software provider.

Jim Pringle, VP Development, announced two new products: Web Citation Index and Journal Use Reports. Essentially, Web Citation Index integrates scholarly web content found in preprints, institutional repositories, open access journals, reports, dissertations and other gray literature into the Web of Knowledge platform. Appropriate web sites are selected for inclusion by analysts. 220 sites have been identified for the first phase, of which 34 are currently undergoing the editorial process. Pringle stressed the heavy level of involvement of seven institutional customers or partners in the development. The beta phase starts in January with a target of July 2006 for operational launch.

Journal Use Reports will provide a new means to measure the value of journals based on a combination of citation and usage data. This is aimed at library and research administrators who are interested in finding where research is published and how much it is used. The development is revealing a lack of standards in usage data and is driving Thomson into a standards advocacy role.

Thomson Pharma, launched at Online 2004, is the first Thomson service to draw information from its broad range of resources into a single workflow solution for those working in the drug development pipeline. New enhancements have been made possible by recent acquisions of Astrolabe, IDRAC and Newport. This may not be the place to go into great detail, but these additions allow new content options for the fields of pharmaceutical product management, regulatory issues and generic competition. Sixteen portlets are now available to push information to the desktop, but future developments are looking into more ways for the user to customise their own specialty portlets and alerts.

The update continued with news of the extension of the Derwent Analytics tool to the full range of databases and its consequent renaming as the Thomson Data Analyzer. In addition, Derwent World Patent Index will be reloaded with a new ‘version 8’ patent classification, while Dialog enhancements include new files, cross file chemical structure searching, various reloads and a new version of Dialog Link.

Many of the enhancements mentioned here will no doubt be covered in more detail elsewhere by Information Today. This short review cannot do justice to the volume of material presented, but the overall message from Thomson is clear – its future will rely on products and tools developed from across its range of existing and newly acquired resources; and furthermore, partnership with customers will be central in product development.

Jim Ashling
Ashling Consulting
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The View from the Top

Barb mentioned earlier (scroll down to the post titled "First Steps into Online Information 2005") about the view from the balcony. Here’s what it looks like. The hall is color coded, with an odd aqua shade designating the traditional online companies, purple for content management, and bright blue for enterprise search. Interesting which companies are self-classified into which categories. Overall, I have the sense that the content management area is very well represented at this conference, but I’m not sure that the attendees are the ones they expected to see.

Looking down on the CILIP stand

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