On joining the Twitter community

Men in computerI must admit I have been a Twitter sceptic.

A service that lets you send ultrashort messages to a group of contacts? Come on!!!

There is enough information noise in my life already: email, phones, RSS feed and web sites to follow, meetings, text messages. The list goes on and on.

My wife convinced me, however, and I have now opened my own Twitter account.

Sure, there are enough of Facebook like messages: “I am taking my dog for a walk!”, “It is raining” etc. — the kind of bonding and grooming oriented chatter we humans are so good at.

But there are also highly useful messages announcing meetings, online articles, news items etc, and if you follow people having the same interests as yourself, you will get the latest news awfully fast.

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Pandia celebrates its 10 year anniversary

10 years ago my wife Susanne and I decided to get a new hobby: search engine surveillance.

It was all due to our total fascination with the World Wide Web and a strong belief that the combination of search and the Internet would transform our society completely.

We were right. The world is a different place now compared to what it was 10 years ago and that change is partly caused by giants like Google, making huge amounts of information available to all of us within seconds.

When our generation leave this earth, few people will be able to imagine a world where you would have to go to the local library to order a copy of a newspaper article or a book.

We called our site Pandia, after the Greek goddess of light and enlightenment (to tell the truth: all the good domain names were taken), and put up a list of all the essential search catalogs and search engines available at the time.

One year after we started blogging about search, and now we are invited to conferences around the world as search engine industry experts.

One friend asked us why we didn’t turn this hobby into a business. Combined with some search engine marketing services, it would have been sustainable. That’s probably right.

However, it is the social aspect of search that fascinates us, as well as the innovation culture found in some of these companies, not the businessman’s dream per se. Hence Pandia remains a part time hobby.

I have put up an article over at Pandia that tells the strange story about how Gudmund Hernes and the Norwegian parliament became the godfather and godmother of Pandia without knowing it.

Understanding the European Search Engine Industry

This week Microsoft decided to focus all its enterprise search development in Norway. At the core of this new effort is Fast Search and Transfer, a Norwegian company Microsoft bought earlier this year.

This development brings up the question on what it means to have a “European” search engine industry. There are no big Norwegian owned search engine companies left, but at the same time both Microsoft, Yahoo! and Google have established research units in Norway.

Why? Because Norway has one of the best search engine development clusters in the world. They want the brainpower.

My wife Susanne and I had the pleasure of taking part in a very interesting seminar arranged by IPTS in Seville last week. The European Commission is looking for expert advice on how to secure and develop European activities in this area.

Several of the participants felt that Google had become to powerful and that the European search engine industry was all but disappearing. Therefore, they argued, the EU should invest in a European alternative to Google.

Unfortunately, I never found the time to do a study of the European search engine industry when working as a researcher at STEP/NIFU STEP. However, Susanne and I made use of our experience from editing Pandia and wrote a position paper for IPTS, called “Is there room for a European search engine industry?”

The short answer to that question is yes.

Search engine intelligence for librarians

My wife Susanne and I visited NOLUG on Monday and talked about search engine intelligence for librarians.

Nolug, or Norwegian Online User Group, is a community for users of online databases and search tools.

There are a large number of search oriented sites out there, but you only have to follow a few to get the essential news and commentary.

Susanne also presented her favorite RSS web feed readers and online bookmarking services and discussed why such services help you cope with information overflow.

Here is the main presentation in Slideshare format:

You can also download the PDF file from Pandia.

We also made a short presentation of the history of our search engine oriented site Pandia. It is, indeed, a strange story. Pandia is definitely the only site of this kind out there that was indirectly caused by an act of parliament!

Well, you can read about it in this short slideshow:

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Claiming a post at Technorati

I am not really expecting a lot of visitors to this blog. As long as our two cats keep track of these posts I am happy.

However, Timian and Basilikum are using Technorati to follow the blog scene. And in order to get your blog listed in Technorati you need to claim it. One way of doing that is to include a link to your Technorati Profile in a blog post.

What is Technorati, you ask. Well, it is one of the more successful attempts at mapping the blog scene online. It definitely has its part of blog spam (i.e. artificial blogs — or splogs — set up to lure visitors into clicking on ads), but it still works as a good blog search engine.

By all means try it out.