NextBio Recommender February 15, 2009Posted by Andre Vellino in CISTI, Information retrieval, Recommender, Recommender service, Search.
The biosciences search portal NextBio is interesting for several reasons. According to this interview, the VP of Engineering Satnam Alag (also the author of Collective Intelligence in Action) says NextBio will shortly be introducing an article recommender
The key point about this particular recommendation engine is its strong use of an ontology, similar in concept to tags, to develop a common vocabulary for items and users. The system then makes use of profile information and user interactions, both short- and long-term, to provide recommendations. The system leverages both item- and user-based approaches.
I am a little too jaded to (completely) believe the enthusiastic assertion that article recommenders will be the next killer-app, but I do hope this prediction comes true. Recommenders are basically just a feature in portal and they depend on a lot of other things in it – user tracking, content, collections, ratings. They are killer apps for Amazon and Netflix but only because everything else they do is also done well. It will take a perfect storm to get everything right for a scientific article recommender.
In addition to a recommender it appears that NextBio also has a feature that Glen Newton came up with for query refinement: “drill clouds”
The major difference is that, in Glen’s drill clouds, clicking on a term in adds the term to the conjnction of terms in the query and narrows the search to the subset of documents that contains that conjunction. In NextBio the tag-cloud changes the class of things that the original search term applies to – i.e. it narrows the context for the query rather than adding terms to the query. Which is a little bit counter-intuitive once you’ve tried Glen’s method (you can experiement with it on CISTI Lab).
I think NextBio – which also includes scientific datasets, clinical trials and news – is a science portal to keep tabs on.