Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Google as your federated search interface

For a while now I've noticed that journal articles from some not-for-profit (but not free) content delivery projects--like JSTOR and Project MUSE--have populated my Google search results. But the implications of that never sunk in until I sat in on recent presentations by salespeople from both Gale Thomson and EBSCO, both of who say they are working with Google on a similar capability: results from their databases will appear in Google results.

Apparently, how this would work is still under development, with issues such as result placement algorithms and the point at which user verification occurs being among the major issues.

But still, the idea of Google being the interface for federating searching makes sense in a context where libraries are constantly resisting the user behavior of going to Google first and ending their information searches with what is found there. Making other federated search interfaces as simple as Google may not be enough--if users go to Google anyway. And I have to confess that I've been one to protest against the dumbing down of federated search interfaces; but Google is the elephant in the room, and can't be ignored.

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