Search

Web Search Re-Imagined: Searchme iPhone App

Re-imagined a bit, anyway. Why browse a vertical list of results when you can flip through them like pages in a book (or album covers in iTunes). Searchme on the iPhone and iPod touch does just that. As you type your search term, icons representing rough categories appear, allowing you to target your search and […] » about 300 words

DeWitt Clinton On The Birth of OpenSearch

OpenSearch is a common way of querying a database for content and returning the results. The idea is that it brings sanity to the proliferation of search APIs, but a realistic view would have to admit that we’ve been trying to do that since before the development of z39.50 in libraries decades ago, and the […] » about 900 words

Cataloging Errors

A bibliographic instruction quiz we used to use asked students how many of Dan Brown’s books could be found in our catalog. The idea was that attentive students would dutifully search by author for “brown, dan,” get redirected to “Brown, Dan 1964-,” and find three books. Indeed, the expected answer was “three.”

As it turns out, my library has all four of Dan Brown’s published books, including the missing Digital Fortress. The problem is that three books are cataloged under the more common Brown, Dan 1964-, but Fortress was cataloged under Brown, Danielle.

The problem is that cataloging is imperfect.

Yeah, it takes some marbles to say that, but the fact is that cataloging is a human endeavor. Humans make mistakes. The challenge we face is to build systems that tolerate error, and then make it easy to fix those errors when discovered.

OpenSearch In A Nutshell

OpenSearch is a standard way of querying a database for content and returning the results. The official docs note simply: “Any website that has a search feature can make their results available in OpenSearch format,” then adds: “Publishing your search results in OpenSearch™ format will draw more people to your content, by exposing it to […] » about 300 words

Context, Language, Systems

“Bagged products” is little better than “cookery.” I’m gonna bet that no customer has ever asked the sales people for “bagged products,” that nobody’s ever checked the yellow pages for “bagged products,” and without context, nobody would come close to answering a question on what the heck “bagged products” are all about. But we do […] » about 300 words

Talking ‘Bout Library 2.0

Users want a rich pool from which to search, simplicity, and satisfaction. One does not have to take a 50-minute instruction session to order from Amazon. Why should libraries continue to be so difficult for our users to master?

— from page 8 of the The University of California Libraries Bibliographic Services Task Force Final Report. I find a new gem every time I look at it.

Standards Cage Match

I prefaced my point about how the standards we choose in libraries isolate us from the larger stream of progress driving development outside libraries with the note that I was sure to get hanged for it. It’s true. I commented that there were over 140,00 registered Amazon API developers and 365 public OpenSearch targets (hey […] » about 1000 words

Ryan Eby’s Pursuit of Live-Search

Ryan Eby gets excited over LiveSearch. And who can blame him? I mention the preceding because it explains the following: two links leading to some good examples of livesearch in the wild.

Inquisitor is a livesearch plugin for OS X’s Safari web browser. It gives the top few hits, spelling suggestions where appropriate, and links to jump to other search engines.

Garrett Murray’s ManiacalRage is an interesting blog on its own, but he’s also doing some good AJAX on his search interfaces. Look first at the archive search. But also take some time to appreciate the new content search. Sure, you’ll have some complaints, but it’s his site and not yours and there are some ideas there that are pretty interesting and useful.