Magazine article Information Today

LEXIS-NEXIS Continues Web Transition

Magazine article Information Today

LEXIS-NEXIS Continues Web Transition

Article excerpt

Mick O'Leary has been using and writing about online information for over 15 years. He is director of the library at Frederick, Maryland, and is a principal in The Data Brokers, an information consultancy. His e-mail address is 71735.2041 @ compu serve. corn.

Universe is a major new portal for news and business information

The Web seems to have been around much longer than it actually has, because its effects upon information products and information-seeking behaviors have been so profound. Tens of millions of people have become comfortable doing sophisticated research on the Web, an outcome that was completely unforeseen just 3 or 4 years ago. The number of people getting news and business information from Yahoo! and Bloomberg dwarfs the subscriberships of Dow Jones, DIALOG, and LEXIS-NEXIS. These new researchers know nothing of the old days. They've had great success with the new methods of the Web, and they have firm expectations for their research:

1. Immediate access to critical data, such as top general and business news stories, stock quotes, and market reports-even weather reports and forecasts

2. Connections among related kinds of information

3. Unflagging timeliness through constant updating

4. "Personalization" features for customizing the system to individual preferences

Unfortunately, the older online services (or "legacy" systems, as they're sometimes called) are the antithesis of this design. Their decades-old systems work just the opposite:

1. Their large, comprehensive databases blend everything together, mixing the big stories among lots of small and insignificant ones.

2. Their databases stand as independent units, with few or no linkages to related information in others.

3. They don't have the constant updating rhythm of the Web.

4. Their interfaces have traditionally been "One size fits all."

Classic online services, then, face tough choices in their Web plans. Do they simply import the legacy system to the Web? Do they try to adopt Web methods? Do they try to have something in the middle? And there is yet another problem. Their end users will expect Web-like features, but their numerous online-searcher clients will protest bitterly and loudly if the full power and depth of the legacy products are compromised.

LEXIS-NEXIS has its own simple solution: Do it all. Its new Web version for the business and corporate market, LEXIS-NEXIS Universe, has legacy-system search power, an effective end-user interface, and several New Age Web features. LEXIS-NEXIS Universe (LNU) may not meet all the expectations of purists on both sides, but it gives everybody the essence of what they expect.

LNU for Online Pros

LNU has nearly all of the complete LEXIS-NEXIS content. A few prominent files, especially INVESTEXT and the market research reports, are absent, because their producers will license only under per-document pricing, which LNU does not yet have. LNU plans to add document-level pricing, and the appearance of these important files can be expected to follow.

LNU has both transactional and flat-rate pricing plans, though most customers are choosing the latter. Rates are calculated according to content selected, number of users, and length of contract. There are numerous "bundles" of L-N databases that can be chosen (few customers will get the entire L-N content). The most popular bundle contains News, Company, Country, and People-it costs $250/month per user, for up to 10 users. The monthly rate drops if more users are added. Large customers can negotiate contracts with substantially lower costs per user.

For experienced searchers, LNU has an Advanced Search mode, which supports most L-N search commands. The principal exception-at this time-is FREESTYLE, L-N's relevance search option. Relevance searching can now be applied to an existing Boolean search but cannot be used as an initial strategy. …

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