Friday, October 03, 2008

The Hakia Question

Calling all librarians. The Semantic Web is looking for you. Everyone on board! Right? Well, maybe. My colleague The Google Scholar, has mixed feelings about Hakia's call out for free service from librarians and information professionals. And he has a right, too. Hakia's is suspiciously similar to Google's asking librarians to help Google Co-op -- and not surprisingly, it failed miserably.

But at the same time, I see it as an opportunity for librarians to make a case for their expertise in information retrieval. We can keep quiet and let others do the work for us; but that only leads to further marginalization. And we'll be left out again, which we did with Web 2.0.

What we librarians should do is not only learn about the SemWeb and come up with solutions, but to offer our knowledge and recommendations, as librarians do in their every day work. If search engine companies are intelligent enough to realize the importance that librarians offer in the search and information retrieval, they'll realize librarians are partners in this race to the SemWeb. Librarians must step up to the plate, it's an opportunity -- and not one to take lightly either. Here is what Hakia has issued:

Yesterday we issued an open call to librarians and information professionals for credible Website submissions at the WebSearch University in Washington D.C. We are glad to report that the immediate feedback is overwhelmingly positive.

Currently, hakia is generating credibility-stamped results for health and medical searches to guide users towards credible Web content. These results come from credible Websites vetted by the Medical Library Association. For an example of a credibility-stamped result, search for What causes heart disease? and mouse over the top search results. We are now aiming to expand our coverage to all topics.

Librarians and information professionals can now suggest URLs of credible Websites on a given topic by joining the hClub. Our credibility site definition is transparent and fulfills most of the following criteria:

Peer review. The publisher of the site must have a peer review process or strict editorial controls to ensure the accuracy, dependability and merit of the published information. Most government institutions, academic journals, and news channels have such review mechanisms in place.
No commercial bias. The publisher of the site shall have no commercial intent or bias. For example, for travel related recommendations consider U.S. Department of State travel portal and not Travelocity.
Currency. The information on the site should be current and links should be working.
Source authenticity. The publisher (preferably) should be the owner/producer of the content.

Upon submission, hakia will process the suggested sites with QDEX (Query Detection and Extraction) technology and make them available to Web searchers in credibility-stamped search results. Each month we will give away thank-you prizes, ranging from a book donation to two conference grants, to participants. To learn more or suggest credible Web sites, please visit

We are looking forward to hear your feedback! This is just the beginning of a long journey.

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