Thursday, May 7, 2009

Great techie fun - ClearForest Gnosis and more

I got to go to a conference on technology for librarians. Although the technology petting zoo turned out to be pathetic (lots of handouts, hardly anything to play around with, and the stuff that was available wasn't the sort of stuff I was interested in), the presentations were awesome. I learned about some nifty tools, Semantic Web developments, and open source stuff (ILSs, OPACs, and more). I'm not sure I'll be able to play around with everything I learned about, but I can play around with some of it.

One of the things I found out about was ClearForest Gnosis, a Firefox add-on. ClearForest Gnosis can process a web page and, in a few seconds, link topics, names, organizations, etc. to information available from a select list of sites or search them in whatever seach engines are included in the list. The default list includes things like Wikipedia, Google, Facebook, Linkedin, and Technorati. You can add more sites to the list, but ClearForest Gnosis seems to be picky about which sites its able to use - I'm guessing it has something to do with how those sites are set up and what their metadata is like. Either that, or I'm adding the sites wrong. I tried adding and a few other sites, and ClearForest Gnosis doesn't seem to be able to use any of them. Also, I tried it out on my blog and discovered that it doesn't like long pages of text - I either had to select a portion of text to process or click on a single post.

Still, even with its limitations and glitches ("Teen Games"= sports event, "hockey puck travel" = industry term, etc., and it catches some things, such as certain names, only to miss others), it's pretty nifty. I'm not sure how often I'll be using this add-on, but it'll be fun to experiment with it at least.

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