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The Deep Web fascinates most of us and scares some of us, but is used by almost all of us. While over the past couple of years, more and more information has surfaced about the Deep Web, finding reputable information in those depths is still shrouded in mystery. Abe Lederman, CEO of Deep Web Technologies, wrote a guest article for Refer Summer 2016, republished in part below. Refer is an online journal published three times a year for the Information Services Group of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP).
The Web is divided into 3 layers: the Surface Web, the Deep Web and the Dark Web. The Surface Web consists of several billion web sites, different subsets of which are crawled by search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing. In the next layer of the Web, the Deep Web consists of millions of databases or information sources – public, subscription or internal to an organization. Deep Web content is usually behind paywalls, often requires a password to access or is dynamically generated when a user enters a query into a search box (e.g. Netflix), and thus is not accessible to the Surface Web search engines. This content of the Deep Web is valuable because, for the most part, it contains higher quality information than the Surface Web. The bottom-most layer, called the Dark Web, gained a lot of notoriety in October 2013 when the FBI shut down the Silk Road website, an eBay-style marketplace for selling illegal drugs, stolen credit cards and other nefarious items. The Dark Web guarantees anonymity and thus is also used to conduct political dissent without fear of repercussion. Accessing the gems that can be found in the Deep Web is the focus of this article.
Michael Bergman, in a seminal white paper published in August 2001 entitled – The Deep Web: Surfacing Hidden Value, coined the term “Deep Web”. The Deep Web is also known as the Hidden Web or the Invisible Web. According to a study conducted in 2000 by Bergman and colleagues, the Deep Web was 400-550 times larger than the Surface Web, consisting of 200,000 websites, 550 billion documents and 7,500 terabytes of information. Every few years while writing an article on the Deep Web, I search for current information on the size of the Deep Web and I’m not able to find anything new and authoritative. Many articles that I come across still, like this article, refer to Bergman’s 2001 white paper.
Many users may not be familiar with the concept of the Deep Web. However If they have searched the U.S. National Library of Medicine PubMed Database, if they have searched subscription databases from EBSCO or Elsevier, if they have gone and searched the website of a newspaper such as the Financial Times or went to purchase a train ticket online, then they have been to the Deep Web.
If you are curious about what’s in the Deep Web and how can to find some good stuff, here are some places you can go to do some deep web diving…
The Professional Services department at Deep Web Technologies is extending its Account Management efforts to assist our customers in getting the most out of their Explorit Everywhere! (EE!) service. As with most any software service, it is possible to use its basic features easily, and EE! is no exception. Everyone who has EE! can do searches, review results, and create alerts with ease. But, we also all know that to really get the most out of any technology, it needs to become part of our habits. And for EE! that means having it available where you need it whenever you have a question or an information need. After all, while Google has become a habit for many, EE!, with its high quality, authoritative, and often expensive sources purchased by our customers for their users, needs to be that habit for those information needs and questions that Google can’t easily answer.
Explorit Everywhere! has several features that can help customers integrate their search application into their website. That way it’s there for their users wherever they need it. And folks at DWT want to help. Three quick and easy ways to better integrate your EE! searcher include:
- Add a link to your EE! Quick Search or Advanced Search page from a menu, icon, or text on different pages on your website.
- Integrate the EE! Quick Search Widget box on any website page, which will allow users to search from where they are. Then a new browser window or tab will open with the results. The widget is part of every EE! application.
- If your organization has specialized departments or research groups, then we recommend they use Search Builder. The Explorit Everywhere! Search Builder feature, available through the EE! menu and requiring an account, allows a department admin, research lead, or any faculty to create a search widget specific to their group’s information needs by selecting databases and search fields specific for that group. Then that tailored search widget can be placed on any web page. See how one of our customers, University of the Arts, London integrated Search Builder into their Lib Guide Subject pages.
Another part of DWT’s Account Management campaign is to help our customers fine-tune their Explorit
Everywhere! service so that the quality of results meets their users’ needs. As we all know, while there are hundreds, if not, thousands of information databases, they all perform differently and provide a wide range of data. And the advantage of EE! is its ability to bring all those results from multiple databases together. So, given that your databases may be a combination of medical, news, journals, or other informational websites, we can help you tune your application so your searches display the most meaningful data.
In the coming months, here are a couple of different things we will be doing behind-the-scenes to make your EE! searcher work better for your users:
- We recently added the means to fine-tune how the first page of results are generated. As part of our Account Management services, we will be reviewing your EE! service to ensure that those first results are the highest ranking results.
- In addition to our daily monitoring of your connectors to make sure they are working, we will be doing periodical reviews to make sure we are optimizing them for quality results. Sources often add new search fields and new results data. For example, we have been incorporating the ability to search using journal DOI or PubMed ID numbers in the Full Record field in EE!, which includes the Quick Search box. Our goal is to make sure your EE! service makes the most of the source.
Lastly, we will be asking our customers to fill out a short survey to facilitate more discussion so we can better understand how to help make Explorit Everywhere! be the best service possible. We also look forward to having more conference calls with our customers. Ultimately, we want our customers’ users to best use EE! to fulfill their information needs.
Unique Chemical Safety Research Gateway Developed in Collaboration with Stanford University Libraries
I and some of my staff have had the pleasure to work closely with Grace Baysinger, Head Librarian and
Bibliographer of the Swain Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Library at Stanford University, to develop a unique research gateway focused on chemical safety.
My relationship with Grace goes back two decades when I developed SciSearch@LANL, a precursor to Web of Science for Los Alamos National Laboratory and Grace was our customer representative at Stanford.
More recently we have worked closely with Grace on development of xSearch (Stanford’s name for Explorit Everywhere!, our largest federated search implementation.
I have asked Grace to give us an overview of this important chemical safety resource that we have developed together.
While chemists are one of the most intensive users of information, many are unfamiliar with chemical safety resources they should consult before working in the lab. Chemists consulting materials safety data sheets or safety data sheets (MSDS/SDS) discover that they often have “NA” or not available for physical properties that they need for their lab work.
Grace’s goal in working with Deep Web Technologies was to develop a research gateway that provides access to a wide collection of information sources focused on chemical safety. This gateway uses federated search technology, the ability to search multiple sources at one time, which helps users find the information they need more effectively and efficiently. It is possible to view results visually, move to a particular resource in the search results, and to set up an alert to be notified when new information is published on a topic. Common search terms include chemical name, CAS Registry Number, and searching topics using keywords. If a resource contains InChI or SMILES values for a chemical substance, it may be used as a search term too.
Moving soon from prototype to production, the Stanford University version of the chemical safety gateway will be a collaborative effort between the Stanford University Libraries and Stanford Environmental Health and Safety. This gateway has 60+ information sources that includes SDS/MSDS, safety data, syntheses and reactions databases, citation databases, full-text eBooks and eJournals, plus a number of Health & Environmental Safety (EH&S) websites. While the SDS/MSDS and safety data resources form the core of this collection, curated databases such as Organic Syntheses, Organic Reactions, Science of Synthesis, Merck Index, Reaxys, and the e-EROS (Encyclopedia of Reagents for Organic Synthesis) include protocols and safety information that is useful to bench chemists. eBooks and eJournals are full-text searchable, allowing researchers to find property and safety information in handbooks and methods and protocols in journal articles. EH&S websites from selected universities plus websites for the ACS Committee on Chemical Safety, ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety, and the U.S. Chemical Safety Board will help users discover information such as training materials, standard operating procedures, and lessons learned. Search results for a chemical name search also include the “Chemical Box” from Wikipedia in the right column.
At the ACS National Spring 2016 Meeting held in San Diego, Grace and colleagues from Stanford’s EH&S Unit gave a presentation on Using a chemical inventory system to optimize safe laboratory research in a Division of Chemical Health and Safety symposium. The first part of this presentation covers ChemTracker and the latter part (starting on slide 23) shows screen shots of the Stanford Chemical Safety Research Gateway. Slide 24 has a list of the resources being searched in the Stanford gateway. For a current list of resources, please see Grace’s recent blog entry, Chemical safety resource gateway available.
Grace then helped the DWT team develop a public version of the Chemical Safety Research Gateway that is available to test-drive at:
This public site searches a subset of the sources that are searched at the Stanford site as DWT is not able to search subscription sources through their public site.
Please test-drive the public version of the Explorit Everywhere! Chemical Safety Research Gateway and give Abe feedback as to how useful it is to be able to search a broad set of chemical safety resources at the same time. Be sure to register (not required to search) to use the Alerts and MyLibrary features. Did you find that the gateway returned relevant results? What sources (subscription or public) would you add to make this gateway even better? Do you have any other suggestions for improving the gateway?
Please email your feedback to email@example.com
A couple of months ago I came across the claim that we are generating 2.5 billion GB of new data every day and thought that I should write a fun little blog article about this claim. Here it is.
This claim, repeated by many, is attributed to IBM’s 2013 Annual Report. In this report, IBM claims that in 2012 2.5 billion GB of data was generated every day of which 80% of this data is unstructured and includes audio, video, sensor data and social media as some of the newer contributions to this deluge of data being generated. IBM also claims in this report that by 2015 1 trillion connected objects and devices will be generating data across our planet.
So how big is a billion GB? A billion GB is an Exabyte (a 1 followed by 18 zeros), i.e., 1000 petabytes or 1,000,000 terabytes.
My research took me to this article in Scientific American — What is the Memory Capacity of the Human Brain? which I pursued to try to put into context all the huge numbers I’ve been throwing around. Professor of Psychology Paul Reber estimates that:
The human brain consists of about one billion neurons. Each neuron forms about 1,000 connections to other neurons, amounting to more than a trillion connections. If each neuron could only help store a single memory, running out of space would be a problem. You might have only a few gigabytes of storage space, similar to the space in an iPod or a USB flash drive. Yet neurons combine so that each one helps with many memories at a time, exponentially increasing the brain’s memory storage capacity to something closer to around 2.5 petabytes (or a million gigabytes).
So if I’m doing my math right, the 2.5 billion GB of information generated daily could be stored by 1,000 human brains and human memory capacity is still way higher than our electronic storage capacity.
My research then took me to this interesting blog article from 2015 – Surprising Facts and Stats About The Big Data Industry. Some of the facts and stats that I found most interesting in their infographic include:
- Google is the largest ‘big data’ company in the world, processing 3.5 billion requests per day, storing 10 Exabytes of data.
- Amazon hosts the most servers of any company, estimated at 1,400,000 servers with Google and Microsoft close behind.
- Amazon Web Services (AWS) are used by 60,000 companies and field more than 650,000 requests every second. It is estimated that 1/3 of all Internet users use a website hosted on AWS daily, and that 1% of all Internet traffic goes through Amazon.
- Facebook collects 500 terabytes of data daily, including 2.5 billion pieces of content, 2.7 billion likes and 300 million photos.
- 90% of all the data in the world was produced in the last 2 years.
- It is estimated that 40 Zettabytes (40,000 Exabytes) of data will be created by 2020.
Another interesting infographic on how much data was generated every minute in 2014 by some of our favorite web applications is available at – Data Never sleeps 2.0.
I would be remiss if I didn’t tie my blog article to what we do at Deep Web Technologies. So please take a look at our marketing piece – Take on Big Data & Web Sources with Deep Web Technologies. We’d love to hear from you and explore how we can feed content and data from a myriad of disparate sources to your big data analytics engine on the back end as well as explore how we can enhance the insights derived by your big data solutions by providing real-time access to content that complement these insights.
Congratulations to Dr. Ellen Wilson (Ellee), our VP of Professional Services and Engineering, and a new PhD recipient. Ellee walked the PhD ceremony at her alma mater, Pacifica Graduate Institute, on Sunday, May 29, no doubt breathing a huge sigh of relief as she wrapped up this milestone achievement.
Deep Web Technologies hires smart people; we have smart engineers, smart project managers, smart leaders. But Ellee just may be at the top of the list. While her day job may be to guide the ebb and flow of DWT’s team, projects, and software development, her real passion is depth psychology, the exploration of theories and ideas delving into the relationship between consciousness and the unconscious.
Ellee’s dissertation didn’t just add a new set of letters behind her name; her line of exploration is unique to the realm of depth psychology. She presents credible research and ideas about how the world imprints itself on people, tying the order of mathematics throughout history and the present day to the chaos of a more sensory-based world. Are you interested how the development of non-Euclidean geometry created a diversion in the linear focus at the time and contributed to a multiplistic expression of human thought and experience? So is Dr. Ellen Wilson.
Don’t think that receiving her PhD is the end of the line for Ellee. From a very young age, Ellee has been driven to explore what makes us tick. She has multitudinous degrees, ranging from Women’s Studies, Mathematics, and Computer Engineering to Library and Information Science, and now, Depth Psychology. Her PhD may just be her intellectual fulcrum, harnessing her past and funneling it into a rich, erudite future.
DWT is proud to have Ellee on our staff.
Learning Management Systems (LMS) are web based technologies used to offer online classes. The most common LMS are Blackboard, Canvas, Moodle, and Brightspace (previously known as Desire2Learn). And there are many more edging into the market because the idea of providing an online educational portal is really taking off. It’s one of the fastest-growing markets out there!
These LMS are used not only for online classes, but also for the traditional, face-to-face classrooms as an online portal for managing course materials, for offering bulletin boards for online discussions, and for turning in assignments. Given this growing, ubiquitous need for any classroom (including K-12, corporate, etc.) to cultivate an online presence, you would think that one of the central features of these LMS would be to allow for easy incorporation of the library into their online portals since every learning setting has one. But alas, this is far from the truth. In fact, it’s just the opposite. (See Libraries in the Learning Management System, Farkas, 2015)
For most of these LMS, they have no easy user interface modules that allow instructors to include library tools such as access to librarians (e.g., Ask a Librarian), subject focused web pages (e.g., LibGuides), much less a module for students to search the school catalog and the numerous available research databases. Often the best the instructors can offer is a link to the library website as an additional resource. The goal, however, should be to bring the library into these online portals, not have the student leave them.
At Deep Web Technologies, we have been researching how to improve this situation for our customers since the primary goal of our federated search tool, Explorit Everywhere!, is to help librarians provide students with easy, quick, and direct access to their subscription content. We found that for most LMS, if they have tools to support third-party content, it is an additional cost to access these features to incorporate library materials. Then, after the school does add these additional LMS features, the librarian has to do further work to get access to the course management interfaces and do the work to develop these modules. Once all of this is in place, the librarians will most likely need to work with the instructors to coordinate adding their library tools to their course management pages. Obviously, such an ordeal does not scale for the hundreds of instructors at larger institutions.
Every LMS should automatically support incorporating the library as one of their base features. For any LMS, it should be easy for an instructor to configure an Explorit Everywhere! Search widget so students have easy access to the library’s catalog and subscription content. Moveover, the instructor can use the Explorit Everywhere! Search Builder to customize their search widget to search specific course-related databases. Librarians work hard to make their library useful and patron-friendly. Learning Management Systems need to work with them, not put up more barriers.
This past weekend I was writing an email message to one of our new customers. I was sending this customer, as promised,
some example uses of Search Builder, our Explorit Everywhere! tool that makes it easy to create custom search widgets that can be dropped on any web page.
I started my quest for Search Builder widgets by going to the library website of one of our favorite customers, the University of the Arts, London (UAL). UAL is one of our favorite customers, in part, because they do a lot to promote Explorit Everywhere! to their faculty and students across their 6 colleges.
I digress, but last December (2015) I had the pleasure to attend the User Conference for one of our partners, PTFS Europe, and at this conference Paul Mellinger, Discovery Manager at the UAL Library gave a wonderful presentation on their implementation of Explorit Everywhere! and followed that with a guest article on the Customer Corner section of our company blog.
Back to the task at hand, I went to UAL’s Library Subject Guides page and found that they have created 39 subject guides on subjects such as Beauty and Cosmetic Sciences, Graphic Design and Jewellery, subjects that parallel the way that they have organized the sources that we federate for them. If you go into many of these subject guides then click on the e-Resources tab you’ll see at the top left of the page an Articles Plus Search widget (this is what UAL calls Explorit Everywhere!). Each of the widgets on the various e-Resources pages searches a different, appropriate subset of all the sources that we federate for them.
Then to top it off, I came across the Articles Plus Help subject guide (which I had not seen before), a wonderful guide, nicely organized into tabs for Simple Search, Advanced Search, Search Results and Tools and Navigation. Also added recently to this subject guide is a 3 and a half minute video tutorial on Articles Plus. This is why we love UAL!!
Every morning I wake up to a number of Alerts generated by a number of our portals including Biznar, Mednar and Science.gov. Yesterday morning one alert with the title – Is Google good enough for Medicine – caught my attention.
In their editorial commentary in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, 3 medical professionals from down-under talk about how Google (now a verb in the Oxford English Dictionary) is changing the way that doctors practice medicine.
Here’s one anecdote that Dr. Cindy Shin-Yi Lin and her colleagues relate that I found interesting (and scary):
“In a recent letter, a rheumatologist describes a scene at rounds where a professor asked the presenting fellow to explain how he arrived at his diagnosis, ‘I entered the salient features into Google, and [the diagnosis] popped right up’.”
The authors of the editorial also talk about:
“Most clinicians will be familiar with the increasingly frequent scenario of a patient entering the consult room with a sizeable stack of printed webpages containing symptoms, pictures and a dreaded list of potential (and often grave) diagnoses that will undoubtedly commit the clinician to an arduous task of analyzing (and not infrequently, refuting) this information with the ‘cyberchondriac’ patient.”
If this topic interests you check out this blog article that we published last year – Relying on Google for Science Information is Bad for your Health, and if you want to bring more authoritative stacks of paper to your physician in your next visit try out our freely available medical research site, Mednar which searches 40+ sources of quality medical information all at the same time.
Oh, and I love that mug!!
Problem – Your Explorit Everywhere! solution (particularly at academic institutions) is typically setup to search a wide spectrum of sources that aren’t always relevant to every researcher or student. Special groups (e.g. the Chemistry Department, the Psychology 101 course, or the High Energy Physics Division within a research lab) may prefer to search only a handful of resources, and don’t want to be overwhelmed by results from irrelevant sources. Sound familiar?
Our elegant solution – Explorit Everywhere! Search Builder
Each Explorit Everywhere! application comes loaded with Search Builder, a search engine creation tool designed to create custom search engines that only search the specific sources your user group needs. For example, an instructor teaching a class on Computer Programming may want students to research responsive design using four selected resources. Rather than tutoring the class in how to use their Explorit Everywhere! Advanced Search and limit the search to the four relevant resources, the instructor can simply create a search engine designed for his students that only search those resources the students should search. Then, he can place a search box to this new engine on his course page to make it even easier for his students.
There are some Deep Web Technologies customers that create, use, and market only Search Builder engines engines that only search the specific sources your user group needs. For example, an instructor teaching a class on Computer Programming may want students to research responsive design using four selected resources. Rather than tutoring the class in how to use their Explorit Everywhere! Advanced Search and limit the search to the four relevant resources, the instructor can simply create a search engine designed for his students that only search those resources the students should search. Then, he can place a search box to this new engine on his course page to make it even easier for his students.
Search Builder can create unlimited search engines for one person, groups, teams or even enterprises. Admins can build search engines for each department, students can create their own search portal with a personalized search box, professors can modify search engines for their classes, and teams can search the most relevant resources and delve into their critical materials most efficiently.
Search Builder can be integrated into:
- Learning Management Systems
- Corporate Portal
- CRM Systems
Help your researchers be be efficient – Use Search Builder. And, if your organization uses one of the pesky Discovery Services which don’t allow, or at least don’t make it easy to limit your search to relevant resources, Search Builder is a great reason to switch to Explorit Everywhere!
I just came across this Fall 2014 survey conducted by one of our competitors who shall remain nameless (at least until you click on the link at the end of this blog post) which I found interesting and wanted to share with our readers.
Our competitor surveyed members of SLA (Special Library Association), mostly members of the PHT (Pharmaceutical & Health Technology) Division on whether they use federated search today and if not would they find federated search useful and what features would such a federated search solution need to have.
Question 2 of the 6 question survey asked – “Does your information center provide a ‘federated search’ function that allows users to search *all* of your organization’s online content resources with a single query? 81% of the respondents said “No”.
Explanations as to why federated search has not been more adopted in pharmaceutical companies, even though these companies have a wealth of content to access (and accessing this content is not so easy), seems to have to do at least to a large extent, with the lack of IT cooperation with the Knowledge Management or Information Services Group.
Marydee Ojala, Editor-in-Chief of Online Searcher and one of my favorite people at Information points out that:
“Searchability of electronic resources has long been piecemeal, but a federated search solution must take into account the IT infrastructure already in place.”
I have certainly been on a number of prospect calls which included IT where the was a lack of understanding of the power of federated search and a reluctance to add yet another tool to the set of tools/software that IT needs to support. What I propose to many prospects is that we start with a solution that is hosted by us in the cloud, minimizing the involvement of IT. Once the value of our service is proven to our customer if they now want to add internal content to their Explorit Everywhere! subscription and public content that we are searching from the cloud then we can move our solution to servers sitting behind the customer’s firewall.
When asked in question 5 of the survey, what respondents thought were the main drawbacks of not having federated search, the answers – which I was very happy to see – included:
87.50 % — Time spent looking multiple places for information
71.88 % — Missed information / opportunities due to “inexpert searching”
68.75 % — Reduced usage of online information sources
65.63 % — Over-reliance on search engines as primary research tool
All-in-all this is a very interesting survey. The survey results and analysis is available starting on page 18 of the Fall 2014 CapLits newsletter.