Automating Search Interfaces"

Marcus Carr mrc at
Fri Feb 20 05:11:59 GMT 1998

John Petit wrote:

> It is true that hand crafted search interfaces would be more polished,
> but who should be responsible for their creation. Is there some
> designated Java developer in the hotel industry that will make a search
> engine selflessly for the entire industry. No. If such work is relegated
> to the private companies then such search engines will not represent the
> entire industry in a unbiased way. This leaves nice, but proprietary
> search engines, and we are right back to where we started from; searches
> of privately selected database rather than searches of heterogeneous,
> industry representative databases.

I wonder what would happen if Alta Vista, Yahoo et al started supporting 'index
DTDs' of their own making, written for particular industries and designed as an
interface layer to the search engine. The data owners would be responsible for
the creation/generation of these very skinny documents and the embedded links to
the richer versions. If these DTDs were regarded as being a subset of the data
strictly for the purpose of searching (rather than for more general information
storage), the DTD would primarily suit the search engine and need show no bias
toward any particular industry group. The hits could be ranked more highly than
those found by standard means and would probably be more valuable to users. Then
the search engine builders could start supporting each others DTDs in search of
commercial advantage, etc...

This would leave the technical responsibility and potential financial gain to a
group who have no other interest other than making data findable. This sounds too
good to be true, so almost certainly is.

> I do not feel that consumers will not care about search accuracy. When a
> customer is looking for variations of Ginkgo Biloba (an over-the-counter
> drug) they want to see all the sites that sell it and for what price.
> The same is true for travelers looking for room availability at their
> travel destinations. No one wants to wade though a hundred tangentially
> related sites.

I agree. I think users want to feel that buzz that you get from finding the right
site on the first try, despite the use of somewhat dubious search criteria.


Marcus Carr                  email:  mrc at
Allette Systems (Australia)  email:  info at
Level 10, 91 York Street     www:
Sydney 2000 NSW Australia    phone:  +61 2 9262 4777
                             fax:    +61 2 9262 4774

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