ebsco visual search
I learned about EBSCO's new Visual Search tool recently and decided to try it with co-browsing today. It didn't work. I got a big grey box with an x in it where the visual search tool should have been. The patron got a notice that they needed to download Java.
It looks like to me that EBSCO is acheiving the visual search by way of a Java Applet, and this explains the problem a little.
The way our co-browsing works right now is through proxying. The co-browsing server takes web pages we are looking at and rewrites them so they can display for both the patron and librarian. What happens when that web page contains a java applet? Well, in this case, nothing, and nothing means no visual search.
The question is - if search tools continue to develop and become less dependent on static web pages, will we be able to proxy them for co-browsing?
Windows' new Academic Live service uses another innovative interface that doesn't work with our co-browsing.
I realize also that a few years ago, I might not have cared. In the past, I've quickly dismissed visual search tools. They were neat to look at, but not so useful for finding things.
Kartoo was one (works in co-browse), and antarti.ca (not sure if it works in co-browse) was another. There's also been some buzz recently about Aquabrowser, you can see it in action with King County Library System's catalog (does not work in co-browse).
I made sure that the visual search worked without co-browsing and it was swell, though as I zoomed in on search terms and articles, I kept wondering what I was missing. I couldn't see the article in a textual context of my search.
In fact, visual search never worked as well for me as text searching, though most of my experience has been limited to
goofing around exploring with the tools listed above. Then again, I first learned to search using card catalogs and HW Wilson indexes. The text-based techniques I learned with those tools have been applied to online library search technology almost exactly.
So here is where my thinking has changed. Just because visual search doesn't work for me, or, I'd wager, for a lot of today's searchers, it doesn't mean that it's not going to work well for tomorrow's searchers.
What's more, if our students are going to learn to search library resources visually, we better learn to do it too, and the tools we use to help them better work.