Magazine article Online

A9.Com

Magazine article Online

A9.Com

Article excerpt

Recently, a question asking for the source of a vaguely remembered quote by Rosabeth Moss Kanter (the well-known professor at Harvard Business School) appeared on one of the info-pro e-mail discussion lists I read. It didn't show up in the standard sources for quotations, and a quick Web search didn't turn up anything either.

Aha, I thought: a chance to try out A9.com, the relatively new search engine from Amazon.com. One of the features that sets A9 apart from its competitors is the inclusion of "Search Inside the Book" results from Amazon.com--the feature that lets you search the full text of more than 120,000 current books. And, yes, a version of the quote finally surfaced within one of Moss Kanter's books.

A9 is an interesting hybrid: part general-purpose search engine, part specialized search tool, and part Web resource-management tool. Note that many of the features of A9 are only available if you sign in using your Amazon.com log in. If you ever want to anonymize your session, just click the "Sign out" link in the upper-right corner.

One of the most obvious distinctions of A9 is that search results are displayed in five columns: Web Results (from A9's search index, "enhanced by Google" and Alexa), Book Results (from Amazon's "Search Inside the Book" feature), Image Results (essentially Google's Image Search), Movie Results (from IMDB.com), and Reference Results (links to ready-reference results from GuruNet).

You can select which of the Results columns you want to display. Since each column is fairly narrow, pull the borders of each column to expand or contract it for easier reading. And, trust me, you'll want to keep resizing those columns, as the initial presentation is a bit funky. Note that there are [Close] and [Full] links on each of the columns, allowing you to close a column entirely or have it fill the screen. You can also close any of the search results columns entirely. For example, when I was doing a search on Lou Gehrig's Disease, I closed the Movies and Reference columns.

A9 keeps track of all the Web sites you have viewed--essentially a visible version of the History file maintained by your browser. If this bothers you, you can click the Sign Out link, as A9's History feature only tracks users who have signed on to Amazon.com. Interestingly, the A9 History log is not erased if you clear the "history" file in your browser. …

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