Magazine article Searcher

Gauntlet

Magazine article Searcher

Gauntlet

Article excerpt

Do you ever wonder whether the online industry knows what people do with the stuff they sell? Sometimes it appears they couldn't possibly have any idea. Otherwise they wouldn't sell what they do -- or, at least, they wouldn't charge so much.

We hereby issue an open challenge to top executives of the major online search services and large data providers. Searcher Magazine dares each of you to conduct a search of your dial-up online services -- alright, have a search conducted, but while you watch. The search topic will be the latest five reports on your company in established full-text sources -- newspapers, wire services, trade press, whatever -- which you will download. You will then draft a covering memo under your own signature and forward the articles and memo to the head of your parent organization. BUT -- here's the clinker -- you will send the articles as your dial-up online system delivered them. You will NOT spell check. You will NOT edit the text in any way, beyond feeding it into a laser printer via a standard word processing software. And you will NOT let anyone who works for you change the material either.

If you accept the challenge, industry executives, I would love to hear the reactions of your CEOs to what they have seen. It may have been years since such high-placed executives have seen such rag-tag, bob-tailed text as most services supply for top-dollar fees. Arbitrary punctuation, frequent misspellings, undefined fields, occasionally ALL CAP text, meaningless titles -- it's a real joy to use alright.

Some services might face the challenge better than others. The new Profound service, for example, targeted at end users, offers Acrobat PDF downloads of nicely formatted text. Westlaw has ways of providing data re-formatted to look like its printed material, but I believe they only offer that as a fax-on-demand service. …

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