Thursday, 19th October 2006
FirstGovSearch Adds Image and News Search and Continues to Provide Dynamic Clustering
The ResourceShelf have been big fans (and users) of FirstGovSearch since it relaunched in January (an overview from SEW) using a combo of Vivisimo's dynamic clustering and MS Live Web Search database along with several specialty databases providing everything from direct links to FAQ's, forms and even podcasts at the top of the results page. Remember, this is the SEARCH portion of the FirstGov Portal. If you haven't looked or used FirstGovSearch in a few years, it is by no means the same product that you used and probably disliked back then. More than worth a look.
Now, let's continue the story. In February of 2006, Convera, a major player in search especially for the federal government marketplace, announced a deal licensing a large database of open web content to several companies, one of them Vivisimo, the company that powers FirstGovSearch, Clusty, BioMetaCluster, ClusterMed, and some cool stuff from the new Clusty Labs.
Yesterday, FirstGovSearch expanded their service with images and news.
The images come from a federation of several sources including Convera's crawl, an MS Live crawl of the government web, and some specialty collections crawled by Vivisimo. Here's an example search. All of the images come from government sites but users still should check about copyright issues. You'll also notice that Vivisimo's dynamic clustering is available. According to Convera, more than 1 billion images are in this index. But, please let’s not get into a numbers game today. It's really amazing what the U.S. government has in its holdings.
The news search includes materials from "official government sources." From the Voice of America to NOAA to congressional press releases to DOD to NASA. Again, dynamic clustering is provided on the left side of the page. We found some results pages where results are first categorized and then listed in a "traditional" manner and others giving a pure list of results. Here are searches for Illinois (note the categories at the top of the page), North Korea, and Alaksa energy. Remember, in most cases you're reading press releases and other material. These docs can be helpful but again understanding where they are coming from is important. Btw, we did come across news releases and the like from state governments as we ran several test searches.
This would be a great place for teachers to discuss critical info skills.
Also worth kudos with the hope that they keep this updated is the pull-down menu on the advanced search page where you're able to limit by source. Great and very useful and not seen on very many open web news engines. However, we noticed many more sources than were listed here. Bottom line? News search is off to a good start but more sources are needed.
A news service like this is complemented with something like Diplomacy Monitor that's on the prowl for news and primary documents from governments around the globe. It's a great resource, fully searchable, cached pages, numerous ways to browse.
A Spanish language version of the site is also available; however, image and news search have yet to go live.
One final point that we've made several times in the past: FirstGovSearch and Clusty's dynamic categories and Ask.com's Zoom Related Search feature are tools not only to make it easy for a searcher to narrow or expand their search but to potentially come across any ideas, concepts, and names that they might otherwise have not thought of (aka missed). So, each of these services, in their own way, serve as information discovery tools. Important and cool all at the same time. :-)