Federated Data Explained

June 12, 2012

Index Data co-founder Sebastian Hammer discusses the nuts and bolts of search systems in an interview with David Weinberger of the Harvard Library Innovation Lab in “Podcast: Sebastian Hammer on Federated Search.” Both the 23-minute podcast and the written transcript are available at the above link.

The interview begins by defining federated search (a single interface for multiple data sources) and explaining how it differs from search engines like Google (which gather information then pull query results from a unified database.)

Hammer acknowledges that, in some situations, the federated approach is the only choice. For example, you’ll need it if the data you’re after is subject to frequent change. However, federated searches can be terribly slow, and all the data might not be available at the same time. Also, merging federated results can be problematic. On the other hand, building an index by pulling in everything you might possibly want to search can strain practicality. Hammer’s solution– a hybrid approach. He explains:

“So my notion is that you want to be able to gather stuff together in an index when it is practical and possible, and you want to be able to federate for the stuff where it’s not practical or possible. And you want to try to do both of those things as well as you possibly can and you want to try to somehow get the results of both of those types of searches back to the user as a single nice friendly merged search results.”

Simple, right? The interview goes into much greater depth on federated search now and in the future, as well as ways Hammer’s company strives to make the hybrid approach nice and friendly. I recommend checking it out.

Index Data has been creating discovery solutions for over 17 years. Based in Berlin, the company serves national libraries and consortia, government agencies, and businesses. They are proud to contribute significantly to the open source community. The company is happiest when riding on the cutting edge of their field.

Cynthia Murrell, June 12, 2012

Sponsored by PolySpot


One Response to “Federated Data Explained”

  1. Sebastian Hammer on Federated Search « Another Word For It on June 12th, 2012 4:05 pm

    […] I first saw this at Federated Search: Federated Data Explained. […]

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