In a world replete with information sources and options, it is imperative to offer users something unique. WorldWideScience.org (WWS.org), a federated search product that currently provides a single point of access to 61 scientific databases and portals from more than 60 countries, is a remarkably unique scientific discovery tool. Representing more than three-fourths of the world’s population, WWS.org enables access to over 400 million pages of science from around the globe. Many of the databases searched through WWS.org are not well known outside their originating countries and are not easily accessible through typical commercial search engines. In fact, a recent analysis indicated that WWS.org results, when compared to Google and Google Scholar results, were unique approximately 96.5 % of the time. Some examples of the wide range of information that a user might find on WWS.org are:
Just as science progresses only if knowledge is shared, accelerating the sharing of knowledge accelerates science. All of us engaged in disseminating science knowledge have the opportunity and obligation to do our jobs better, for to do so accelerates science itself.
To this end, I propose a grand challenge--to make more science available to, and searchable by, more people than ever before. A momentous milestone will be achieved once we enable everyone with web access the ability to search with unparalleled precision a billion pages of authoritative science. Already, considerable progress has been made.
My organization, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) is responsible for the scientific and technical information operations of the Department. Over the last 11 years, OSTI has become entirely web-based. Of course, we are just one among many entities who connect people to knowledge using the web. Most notably, Google, Yahoo!, and other conventional search engine providers do this, too.
Google and other conventional search engines do for the web what publishers have long done for books--they create an index so that customers can quickly find information. Web users value this service so highly that search companies have become phenomenally successful enterprises.
However, an important misunderstanding has sprung up about Google and the others. That is, the false presumption, especially among young people, that most useful information is available via conventional search engines such as Google and Yahoo!
In fact, much of the information on the web is inherently unavailable to Google and Yahoo! This key limitation would come as a surprise to...Read more...
As a staff member involved in OSTI's Web presence, it was personally satisfying today to hear Google's J.L. Needham mention OSTI in testimony to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Mr. Needham cited OSTI as an example of a government Web site that increased citizen access to government information by incorporating Google's sitemap protocol. The video is found in a December 11, 2007 article on Google's Public Policy Blog, "Senate testimony: Our efforts to better connect citizens to government."
Also mentioned in Google's blog is the Center for Democracy and Technology article "Hiding in Plain Sight, Why Important Government Information Cannot be Found through Commercial Search Engines." OSTI is listed in "Five Websites on the Right Track." Wow!
For years we have focused on the mission to "make R&D findings available," striving to improve our search capabilities and create accessible Web pages. Much of my time in early 2005 was spent developing OSTI's site redesign, with an emphasis on standards and usability. It's gratifying to hear OSTI mentioned in the public arena; but, even more so to know that we are helping the public find information they need.
Nena MossRead more...