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Comments has about 32 million records available, including 10.7 million from the Compendex (Computerized Engineering Index) that has data going back to 1884, 9.5 million records from the Inspec Archives that goes back to 1896, 2.2 milllion government technical records in the NTIS collection, and 9.5 million patent abstracts.

How can you possibly navigate 32 million records? Searching requires second-guessing authors, and with that many records, it’s bound to miss more than it finds. So, EV uses a combination of full text searching and faceted navigation.

For example, if you’re looking for anti-gravity devices, begin by doing a text search on “gravity.” You’ll get 202,162 results. In the righthand frame, you are shown eight areas (facets) — source, author, affiliation, country, document type, year, etc. — each with a list of the occupants of that particular branch. So, under Affiliation, you can see that the Jet Propulsion Lab has 326 records that contain the word “gravity,” while NASA’s Goddard Center only has 155; this by itself is valuable information. Check the NASA box, and now you you can further refine the 234 results by deciding only to see those articles published in the US, and then the ones on solid state physics. We’re now down to 11 articles. But we can always go back and remove the restriction to only articles published by NASA. It’s tree browsing where we get to construct the tree.

Now EngineeringVillage has added user-created tags. Tags can be declared as public, institutional, or belonging to a user-defined group. Very cool. (It would be especially helpful if, say, the US Patent Office were to suck in the tags applied to patents.)

The tag cloud shows that the top tags at the moment — early days for the tagging feature — are “Thermal management,” “sathya,” “Unsaturated soils,” “Wireless sensor networks,” “Photonic crystals,” and “Room temperature,” which suggests that users are working on growing photonic crystals at room temperature for use in wireless sensor networks, to enable the Sathya Sai Organization at long last to achieve world domination.

In an email, Rafael Sidi, VP of product engineering at Elsevier Engineering Information says that the faceted system was built in house using the FAST search engine.

BTW, I think Rafael makes the right response to Steve Rubel’s idea that “It’s very difficult to survive as a paid service in a Long Tail environment. One reason is that it’s now easier to discover free, open source alternatives.” Rafael replies that services like EngineeringVillage add “value to the content that we publish (indexing, writing abstracts), creating better searching features and providing analytical tools (intelligence).” The Long Tail enables the creation of such deep value that only some of that value can be addressed by Open Source solutions (long may they wave).

(Disclosure: Steve Rubel works for Edelman PR, to whom I consult, and I recently did some videoblogging for FastSearch.)

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4 Responses to “Tags ‘n’ facets at EngineeringVillage”

  1. on 09 Mar 2007 at 1:24 amBillarh

    Wow! You guys are way cool. I’d love to visit someday too. Keep up the great work!

  2. on 20 May 2007 at 2:54 pmYckdz


  3. on 02 Feb 2008 at 2:08 amkistov

    pre teen pageant gown

  4. on 10 Feb 2009 at 7:42 pmAbdulHasim

    it is 4 all who whant to be real man :)