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March 15, 2005

In Search of Bezos

So, A9.com launched a new search feature today. Jeff Bezos launched it with a presentation at eTech25. The nifty thing is that it has an interface for people to add their own custom column with the OpenSearch API (similar to RSS). Now people can syndicate specialized search engines and/or results.

I got to play with it ahead of time, of course. Unfortunately, I was too busy with my regular work to delve properly into the zen of building columns. I suggested some columns, but they didn't make it in, unfortunately - organic chemistry search engines, and O'Reilly books/site.

The organic chemistry search would have been really nifty if I could have figured out how to drive it. You see, one of the difficulties in the environmental chemistry field is getting the right name(s) for the myriad organic contaminants (hydrocarbons, aldehydes, ketones, pesticides, polycarbonated biphenyls, etc.) It would be real nice to search on a name or common name, and come up with all of the synonyms (of which some compounds have several) and related compounds. The problem with the search, of course, is that most of the specialized search engines in the field are owned by major chemical companies or consortiums.

Still, it is a nifty item, and may help people make sense out of the masses of data available on the net. When a search on "alcohol content of wine" can bring up anything from recipes, medical texts, drug abuse, hydrometers, brewer's supplies, chemicals tests for alcohol, "health" sites, and assorted stuff, in addition to the occasional content labeling page, it gets a bit difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff. OpenSearch, and A9 columns, can help with that.

Disclaimer: I work for A9.com, although not as a programmer. I reserve the right to blog about the neat toys my employer releases. My opinions are my own, however, not theirs, and I'm not a PR hack. I'm an opinionated geek.

Posted by ljl at March 15, 2005 12:12 PM