Friday, March 11, 2005

Structured Searching with Mark Logic

Via Jon Udell, I have come across the very cool looking Mark Logic Content Interaction Server (CIS). From what I've gathered so far - without reading the white paper yet, so this might be not 100% on the ball - this acts as a repository for content of different formats, which it stores as XML and then, using a mix of XML querying and search logic, is able to deliver more targeted and granular search results and content for re-use (as this is now structured rather than unstructured information). Jon Udell has a screencast demo showing some of the functionality, which is very nice looking indeed, with the engine pulling out the most relevant paragraphs and chapters in a searched document rather than just pointing to the document itself. The rest of the demo is about outputting to XHTML/pdf via XSL/XSL-formatting objects transformations.

I really like the delivery of more granular content objects for search results in this fashion - for too long we have got too hooked up on the concept of "search": the information retrieval cycle is one of moving from a requirement, finding (or "discovering" as Donna Maurer would put it) information fitting that requirement, and then - critically - making use of that information.
I'm sure I've not even got close to understanding what the CIS can deliver, but I like what I've seen so far...It fits nicely into the equation that I came across in Oracle Magazine (Zen and the Art of Information, George Demarest, p79-80 March/April 2005):

"Information=quality (data + metadata)"

I quite like this neat equation which expresses the idea that information is data with applied quality and context. Structured access to document sections certainly hits the context side of this equation on the head...

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