A recently announced alliance between Lexis-Nexis (http://www.lexis-nexis.com) and Wisers Information, Ltd. (http://www.wisers.com), a Hong Kong-based provider of Chinese-language information, will allow Lexis-Nexis customers to access Chinese-language material through the new WiseSearch tool. This marks the first time Lexis-Nexis is offering Chinese-language content to its customers.
Dual search interfaces (Chinese and English) will let nexis.com and Lexis-Nexis Enterprise Solution customers retrieve Chinese and English sources through a single Web-based platform. Content from over 340 English- and Chinese-language sources from within the Greater China region (Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, and Macau) will be available. Most of this content will be updated on the publication date, except for some China-based publications that publish in the evening, in which case the update will be made the next day. At the present time, over 3.6 million documents are available with about 13,000 new documents added each day.
The new service will not translate documents from one language to the other, but rather will allow keywords to be entered in either language or both languages in a single search request using OR and AND connectors. An optional thesaurus function also translates certain keywords entered from one language to the other, thereby expanding the search. Two search interfaces (English or Chinese) will be available. Retrieved documents will be in their original language in full-text format only. Users may need to obtain some additional software from Lexis-Nexis to view Chinese-language documents.
Eva Au, Lexis-Nexis' managing director, Asia Pacific, said: "We are proud to be making our first Asian-language partnership with Wisers Information. Today's deal is a sign of our commitment to Asia and our determination to enhance our services to customers. nexis.com users can now access information and materials in two of the three most widely used languages on the Internet. The major beneficiaries of our enhanced service offering will be academic researchers; journalists; and legal, business, and government leaders—in fact, anyone who needs to know what is going on in Greater China and needs timely access to authoritative and primary source materials.
"Wisers is the market leader in the Greater China Chinese-information market, and we are very excited with Wisers' proprietary technologies and comprehensive Chinese-content coverage. We are confident that Wisers' service will be able to meet the demanding requirements of our international customers," she said.
The proprietary technologies that Au mentions are information processing on Chinese (IPOC) and the electronic news media and publishing system (ENMPS), both of which were developed in 1993. Because of language structure, English-language technologies will not process Chinese-language material. Information processing on Chinese (IPOC) technology allows keyword searching by phrases and takes into account the entire context. Other Chinese-language search technology does not do this. These tools base keyword searching on individual characters. The site also explains that the ENMPS converts material from "conventional publishing systems of different news media into Internet-compatible Chinese information."
"We are proud to introduce our flagship Web service, WiseSearch, to Lexis-Nexis customers. After years of work, it proves that our information service has achieved a recognized international standard. With the alliance, we can further expand our information service to multinational customers around the world and complement the quality service of Lexis-Nexis," said Ringo Lam, CEO of Wisers.
This alliance will hopefully bring quick and easy access to material that was once difficult, if not impossible, to obtain in a timely manner. However, it's important that Lexis-Nexis make this service, or at least some form of it, available to the customers of its Academic Universe product. Many universities not only have Chinese-study and Chinese-language programs for which this product could be of tremendous value, but they are also home to many students from the Greater China region. It will be interesting to see if Lexis-Nexis and other companies continue to make documents in languages outside of those that use the English-language character set easily accessible through their services.