Meant for a specific subject domain

The advantage of using a subject-specific service lies in its potential to generate relevant and authentic search output.

NEW ADDITIONS to the subject-specific, special search engine arena are discussed in this edition of NetSpeak. The previous edition of this column introduced several new general search engines. Though such search engines help us find information, a researcher who needs to delve deep into a specific subject may not find them adequate/efficient.One alternative to counter such inadequacies is to enlist the service of a vertical search engine (like Kosmix -, discussed earlier), meant for a specific subject domain, if available. A few subject-specific services are profiled here.The advantage of using a subject-specific service lies in its potential to generate relevant and authentic search output. If you are a biologist or a medical doctor or a life science researcher, take a look at BioAsk (, a search tool targeted at life science researchers, from Svapas (http:// . The distinct feature of BioAsk, which mines data from PubMed (a common resource for life science researchers), provides several tools for generating efficient output, with relevant and focused links. Rather than dishing out several web pages that contain the search string, BioAsk attempts to study the content and helps its user unearth different concepts/entities lying hidden in the various article abstracts. When you search for a specific string, the service organises the result into clusters based on bio-entities such as protein/gene, disease, drug/chemical and so on. This helps the researcher easily narrow down the output to the area of his research concern. For instance, if you wish to obtain information on certain aspect of `medicinal plants', say, `pests of medicinal plants', you can invoke a search on `medicinal plants' and then narrow down the output by selecting the relevant chemicals (pesticides) from the cluster `Drug/Chemical'. Besides providing a variety of tools to zoom on the relevant data, the service has some means (like `specialisation filter') to change the order of the output. If you are planning to purchase an electronic equipment or wish to know the latest details on an electronic gadget, access the consumer electronics search service Retrevo (http://www.retrevo. com/). Along with the usual search output, this search service presents you a few clusters (like Reviews/Articles, Shopping etc) for shrinking the output to one with more relevant links. Now, if you are on the look out for tutorials or documents related to computing, before Googling, a peep at Edcomp (http://www.edcomp. com/, the special search engine developed for computing), could prove useful.If you are a student of law or a legal researcher or one of those seeking the latest legal information, check out Justia (, the on-line directory designed for the legal community. And if your requirement is to find some local news/information, the Indian search service Guruji ( could be more effective.As pointed out by Shashi Seth (Product Lead for search at Google) in an on-line chat with this author, while looking for vertical search solutions, one should always keep in mind the potential of Google CSE (a tool to build custom search engines) to generate new subject-specific search engines. So, always keep an eye on this link: that lists out new Google CSE implementa- tions.

Video search engines

As mentioned in an earlier column, on-line videos have become a rage among netizens. To help us locate relevant videos from the ever-growing videos being posted on to several video destinations, feature-packed search services are emerging. AOL Video ( is one such search index worth a try. The index of this service contains information on videos hosted on almost all popular video-hosting services across the Web. Besides this, AOL video search released a few APIs (application program interface) for helping developers build new applications by accessing its index ( This may enable web developers to create video search applications tuned to specific user requirements. Besides the aforementioned service, a few more video search engines have appeared on the web video sphere. Clipblast (http://www., Pluoto (, ScoopVid (http://www. and Videoronk ( are similar such products worth a try. J. MURALI

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