Wednesday, July 26, 2006

federate this

Convince me, someone, that all federated searching does not suck.


Watching: Deadwood, at last.


Iris said...

Me too! I need convincing. I LOVE the idea of it, but I haven't been able to find any thing that actually lived up to expectations.

David Rothman said...

Doesn't any particular application of Federated Search suck or not suck depending quite a lot on (among other factors) the needs of the searcher, what resources are searched, and how well the metasearch engine is designed and built?

It seems to me that a blanket "Your favorite technology here sucks" is just too broad to be true.

Even if all present applications of Federated Search sucked (and I can't concede that they do), we certainly can't just say that they suck and abandon the enormous potential benefit of a Federated Search application that works well.

By this (admittedly partial) definition...

" a multiple of independent, discretely mounted, data sources or databases through one search query"

...couldn't Book Burro (the Firefox extension) be called a Federated Search tool? Despite the additional things I may want it to do, Book Burro can absolutely be said to be devoid of suckage.

Thank you, by the way, for providing the opportunity to legitimately use the word "suck" repeatedly in a single comment.

Woody Evans said...


I agree -- different federators federate differently -- and some to better results than others.

But I'm not happy with any database federated searcher I've yet seen. The main problem, as I understand it, is that the f.s. uses vocabulary that isn't (and can't be) universal. So you end up with missed articles because the search term subject headings are not in a universally controlled vocabulary.

If you want to get technical and say that every vendor federates its own databases -- maybe. But at least there is standardization of terms within all databases for the vendor.

Federated searching in most cases turns out to be sorta like searching Picasa, Flickr, CC, and Wikimedia Commons all at once for a folksonomic tag term and calling the results thorough.

That's a buncha poop.


David Rothman said...

Started a response here, but it got way too long for a comment. Continued the discussion over here:

I am honestly uncertain if this fails some rule of blog propriety (to start a conversation on one blog and take it to another). Let me know, Woody?

Anonymous said...

New blog etiquette rule: it's totally cool to move the conversation under most circumstances. This is one of those circumstances. Others, feel free to weigh in on the subject here, there, or anywhere. WE