Information Retrieval

FAQ Check

"On the Media" on NPR has this story:

FAQ Check

We've all become semi-experts in using search engines and search terms to get the information on the web. But how easy is it to ask a question in normal language and get the right answer? Several new services are trying to do just that. OTM producer Mark Phillips set out to get some answers.

Story here

Cuil: A New Search Engine Launches

While it may seem odd to note today compared to perhaps 1996 or 1997, a new search engine launched today. Cuil is a search engine focusing more on analyzing text relevance over ranking pages as might Google. Reactions seen on Twitter today were mixed such as those heard from Chad Haefele, Karin Dalziel, and Engadget's soon to be Editor-at-Large Ryan Block.

CNET's Rafe Needleman wrote at his WebWare site about the launch and how it was not the best. Needleman's post showed screenshots of strange results returned by Cuil. Dalziel also linked to a screenshot she posted on Flickr.

Have you tried Cuil today? What is your reaction to the launch of this new search engine?

BiblioCommons Emerges: “Revolutionary” Social Discovery System for Libraries

Over at Library Journal Norman Oder Covers The Launch of BilbioCommons, a new social discovery system for libraries that replaces all user-facing OPAC functionality, allowing for faceted searching and easier user commenting and tagging, has gone live in Oakville, ON, a city of 160,000 outside Toronto. It is expected to be used by public libraries serving more than half of Canada’s population—and some libraries in the United States, too. “This is revolutionary, as far as I’m concerned,” Gail Richardson, Oakville PL’s acting director of online services, told LJ. “People don’t want a library that acts like just a glorified card catalog online. They want a catalog that’s as good as Google and Amazon.”

If You Have a Problem, Ask Everyone

John Davis, a chemist in Bloomington, Ill., knows about concrete. For example, he knows that if you keep concrete vibrating it won’t set up before you can use it. It will still pour like a liquid.

Now he has applied that knowledge to a seemingly unrelated problem thousands of miles away. He figured out that devices that keep concrete vibrating can be adapted to keep oil in Alaskan storage tanks from freezing. The Oil Spill Recovery Institute of Cordova, Alaska, paid him $20,000 for his idea.

The chemist and the institute came together through InnoCentive, a company that links organizations (seekers) with problems (challenges) to people all over the world (solvers) who win cash prizes for resolving them. The company gets a posting fee and, if the problem is solved, a “finders fee” equal to about 40 percent of the prize.

Full article in the NYT

Electronic Publication and the Narrowing of Science and Scholarship

You need special access to read Electronic Publication and the Narrowing of Science and Scholarship, but the intro looks good:

Online journals promise to serve more information to more dispersed audiences and are more efficiently searched and recalled. But because they are used differently than print—scientists and scholars tend to search electronically and follow hyperlinks rather than browse or peruse—electronically available journals may portend an ironic change for science. Using a database of 34 million articles, their citations (1945 to 2005), and online availability (1998 to 2005), I show that as more journal issues came online, the articles referenced tended to be more recent, fewer journals and articles were cited, and more of those citations were to fewer journals and articles. The forced browsing of print archives may have stretched scientists and scholars to anchor findings deeply into past and present scholarship. Searching online is more efficient and following hyperlinks quickly puts researchers in touch with prevailing opinion, but this may accelerate consensus and narrow the range of findings and ideas built upon.

Das Wikipedia - Online Encyclopedia Will Go Into Print

According to Bertelsmann Lexicon, there are reasons why people will want to see a print version of the German Wikipedia. Guardian UK reports.

With a price tag of €19.95 , €1 from every Wikipedia Lexikon sold will be given to the German chapter of Wikimedia, the non-profit group behind Wikipedia, for the use of its name.

The publication reverses the industry trend towards the internet and away from traditional print. Publishers of the Wikipedia Lexikon insist it is too soon to say farewell to the book format.

100 Unbelievably Useful Reference Sites You’ve Never Heard Of

100 Unbelievably Useful Reference Sites You’ve Never Heard Of: Beyond Google, Wikipedia and other generic reference sites, the Internet boasts a multitude of search engines, dictionaries, reference desks and databases that have organized and archived information for quick and easy searches. In this list, we’ve compiled just 100 of our favorites, for teachers, students, hypochondriacs, procrastinators, bookworms, sports nuts and more.

Words,Extended: find, rank, read and cite textual information from the web

Glenn Scheper is a software engineer, and gives away a freeware program he developed over the past ten years, which you can use to find, rank, read and cite textual information from the web. He says WordsEx.exe is easy to use, ergometric, and very powerful. He took a break from the laborious process of submitting it to
freeware hosting sites tonight, and thought he'd float mention of it to us, an LIS site, before embarking upon really promoting it by using it to discover all extant Library Information Science sites.

He says take a look at his personal web site, download and give the Words,Extended program a spin, and tell him how it might fit, or be made to fit into the LIS world, of which he knows nothing.

ChaCha Promises to Answer Any Reference Question Any Time

A new 24/7 service from ChaCha allows cell phone users on the go to ask a wide range of reference questions in conversational English and get answers free of charge. Each question is routed to a human guide who searches the Web for the information and within minutes returns the answer in a text message with a web reference link.

Asked if ChaCha represents competition for reference librarians, David Tyckoson, president of ALA's Reference and User Services Association, told American Libraries that people already rely on librarians less for help with finding short, factual results that they can obtain on their own. "What they need a librarian's help with are the more complex searches," he said.

LCSH, SKOS and lcsh.info

Von Totanes sent this one over: "LCSH, SKOS and lcsh.info: the entire LCSH has recently been uploaded at lcsh.info, which is an experimental service that aims to "encourage experimentation and use of LCSH on the web."

It's far from being an ebook that non-techies like me can use easily, but if you understand what Simple Knowledge Organization System (SKOS) is all about, you might be able to make it work for you and develop
new ways of using LCSH online in non-traditional ways, aside from not having to buy a new set every few years. More...

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