Letters to the Editor


D-Lib Magazine
February 2003

Volume 9 Number 2

ISSN 1082-9873

To the Editor

The letter below was received in response to the article, iVia Open Source Virtual Library System, by Steve Mitchell, Margaret Mooney, Julie Mason, Gordon Paynter, Johannes Ruscheinski, Artur Kedzierski, and Keith Humphreys in the January 2003 issue of D-Lib Magazine.

To the Editor:

As a member of LOOK, the consortium investigating joint activities in the library portal development arena, I was pleased to see the article about iVia in the latest issue of D-Lib. Mitchell and crew are doing exciting and important work.

I would like to comment on the machine-assisted harvesting capabilities. While it is true to say that "full-text indexing allows users much finer granularity in searching and provides a boost for increasing the number of successful searches," even with an aboutness measure added to it, the harvesting capability of iVia is too coarse a tool to match the increasing granularity of most user searches. It's not enough to scrape associated Web pages for important terms; a harvester capable of mimicking user behavior (and therefore matching real-world user input) would be able to construct searches on the fly and pore through the databases that increasingly present user "content."

Still, the iVia software is the most exciting package available in the library Web portal community, and it deserves to be watched closely.

Karen G. Schneider
Director, Librarians' Index to the Internet
January 16, 2003

Below is the authors' response to the Letter to the Editor from Karen Schneider.

We'd like to thank Karen for her kind words and would urge those who are interested in software development of our type to join with us. We would like to note, though, that we have implemented the features to which Karen takes exception (in the manner described in the article—as a secondary collection undergirding the more primary, expert built collection) because they are very useful to our users in finding significant resources. In any event, users of iVia (and implementers of the system) have the option of not accessing crawler/classifier created records. We will be gauging how users make use of these features and collections. The results should prove interesting and move the dialogue onto objective grounds. We are very excited about the results this software delivers now and the potential it has for helping small, expert-based finding tools scale better.

Karen's affirmation of the need to understand user finding behavior in navigating Web pages is well taken, has been a concern of ours for a long time and is being addressed in our software development efforts. She and others interested in this might consult an article cited in our bibliography that addresses this area (see the notion of the "apprentice" in S. Chakrabarti et. al., 2002, "Accelerated Focused Crawling Through Online Relevance Feedback", WWW2002, Honolulu, HI, May '02).

Steve Mitchell, INFOMINE Coordinator
Margaret Mooney, INFOMINE Coordinator
Julie Mason, INFOMINE Coordinator
January 22, 2003

D-Lib Magazine welcomes letters related to digital library research and electronic publishing issues. Also welcome are letters with questions or comments about the magazine in general, or about articles appearing in the magazine. Please do not send letters that are primarily commercial, promotional, or advertising in nature.

Letters concerning articles selected for possible publication as Letters to the Editor will be forwarded to the article authors for response. If published, the Letter to the Editor will appear with the article authors' responses whenever possible. D-Lib Magazine reserves the right to edit or shorten letters. If you prefer, you may request that your letter not be published.

Please send your Letters to the Editor to dlib@cnri.reston.va.us.

Copyright© 2003 Corporation for National Research Initiatives

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DOI: 10.1045/february2003-letters