Deep Web Tech Dives Into Vertical Search Portals
Paula J. Hane
Posted On November 13, 2008
Deep Web Technologies (www.deepwebtech.com) recently launched a beta version of a free, federated search portal, Biznar (www.biznar.com), a publicly available business research website. Using Deep Web’s federated search technology, Explorit Research Accelerator, Biznar scans the best business websites on the internet, including blogs, news sites, patent sources, search engines, and deep web sources, returning the most relevant results to one, easily navigable, ranked page. The company says that Biznar is the first in its new line of vertical search portals aimed at improving research quality in specific market areas. Mednar (www.mednar.com) is a free, publicly available medical research site now in beta, which Deep Web Tech has not yet announced or shown at a conference. The company is eager for feedback from serious searchers on the features, sources, and functions of both new search portals.
Deep Web Technologies is well-known for its work on science portals and with federal government agencies’ portals. Founder Abe Lederman has 30 years of experience in software engineering. He was a founder of Verity in 1988 and then consulted for Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). While consulting with LANL and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI), Lederman came to realize the enormous potential for federated search technology. He founded Deep Web Technologies in 2002. The company specializes in custom, federated search solutions using its Explorit Research Accelerator technology.
While the press release announcing Biznar’s beta debut says it was scheduled to launch at Internet Librarian in October, the company actually previewed it first at Web Search University in September. Lederman says the company is doing fairly cautious rollouts with its new verticals, hoping to benefit from the feedback from serious users that it reaches at these industry events. On Nov. 7, the company introduced new versions of both sites that promised a more streamlined interface that is easier to navigate. There is also a continuous review process for sources, he says, with some being dropped and others added.
At this point, Biznar offers a dozen sources in the news category, including BusinessWeek, CNN Money, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal, as well as news searches from Yahoo! Business News and Google News. In the blogs category, it offers ResourceShelf; the other sources in this category are actually blog search aggregators, such as Technorati and Google Blog Search. The list of "business research" sources is quite extensive and includes sites such as the Financial Times’ FT.com. It also offers searching of aggregators such as Goliath, MagPortal.com, and Google Scholar. Lederman says the list is a bit too big and that it will probably be broken into categories. Only when you click to the Advanced Search page do you see the sources being searched—with the option to select/deselect specific sources.
Lederman claims that Biznar offers users a number of key advantages over using general search engines or trying to remember to visit good business sites. (Mednar offers similar advantages to medical searchers.)
- Users can avoid searching business websites one-by-one by searching them all at the same time.
- The use of federated search technology means there’s no reliance on crawled content—searches are done in real time.
- Users are directed only to vetted research sources, some of them are unique "deep web" sources not reached by the general search engines.
- Freely searchable but subscriber-based and fee-based content is also available.
- Users have more control over their search parameters.
- Results are ranked with a five-star system that shows relevancy at a glance.
- Advanced yet intuitive navigation capabilities, such as topical clustering, view by source, and sort options are available.
- Customizable alerts with daily, weekly, or monthly delivery are offered.
Lederman also challenges users to test it against other business research sites, including Business.com, AllBusiness, Zibb, SurfWax, and others. "Simply put, Biznar is better," he claims.
One suggestion that I passed along to Deep Web Tech is that I didn’t find the snippet of text with highlighting to be sufficient to judge the relevancy of an article. It didn’t even provide the complete titles of articles. It highlighted my words, but I couldn’t tell enough about the article or document until I clicked on it. However, it was easier searching in Biznar than in Mednar—the medical articles tended to be more technical and trickier to judge.
Expert business research and editor of the free BestBizWeb enewsletter (www.bestbizweb.com), Bob Berkman, likes Biznar, even in its beta state. Here’s what he has to say about it:
"We’ve seen a lot of business search engines that are supposed to do a better job than Google, and they rarely come close. And while we won’t say that Biznar is better than Google, it is certainly better than most business search engines we’ve seen. It’s intelligently designed, with a careful collection of substantive, relevant sources. It’s filled with useful and helpful features, including a semi-advanced search option; the ability to limit results by type of source, individual source, topic, and author; and an easy way to save one’s selections. Biznar is brand new and we’ll see how it evolves, but for now we like the way it conducts fast, timely, near real-time searching of credible business information sources. Consider this site when you want to turn up authoritative, reliable business related information on the free web."
Blogger Gwen Harris was also impressed. "This is an impressive business research engine in sources used and the topical treatment," she wrote (www.websearchguide.ca/netblog). Her only complaint was the slow speed.
Stephen Arnold, search expert and respected author and consultant, posted a fascinating interview with Lederman (www.arnoldit.com/search-wizards-speak/deep-web.html) earlier this year. Arnold says, "Deep Web Technologies is one of those companies that has a solid product and a strong customer base. With roots in the early days of search, Abe Lederman has continued to innovate. Take a close look at the Deep Web services. This will be time well spent."
After these first two vertical portals have been more finely tuned, Lederman says the company will turn its attention to other vertical categories—perhaps legal, physics, chemistry, or pharma. "And, once the applications are more solid, we’ll put advertising on them to generate revenue," he says. He would also like to revise the company’s Scienceresearch.com site, which launched in 2005 and hasn’t been upgraded for several years.
Lederman says the portals serve as important showcases for the company’s technology—a way to reach libraries as potential customers for custom versions of Deep Web’s search technology. The company is already working with several medical libraries, including the library at University of California–San Francisco Medical School to provide federated search of its licensed content.
Other Free Federated Search Research Sites Powered by Deep Web Tech
Scitopia.org is a free federated vertical search portal to the digital libraries of leading worldwide science and technology societies.
Science.gov is a gateway to more than 50 million pages of authoritative selected science information provided by U.S. government agencies, including research and development results.
WorldWideScience.org is a global science gateway—accelerating scientific discovery and progress through a multilateral partnership to enable federated searching of national and international scientific databases.
U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) Defense Technical Information Center’s new DTIC Online research portal’s interface, known as MultiSearch (http://multisearch.dtic.mil), offers four defense search channels from a single drop-down menu.