Volume 9 Number 2
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 articleas 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
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