The folks at ResourceShelf recently posted a very interesting current and historical analysis article on federated searching. Here are a couple of a paragraphs from it, to whet your appetite:
With all of the talk about Google's Universal Search initiative ... we think it's important to take a look at what's currently out there and where things are going...
For many years, ResourceShelf has been talking about metasearch or, as some call it, federated search, single interface, or cross-database searching. In a nutshell, we're talking about one search that will query multiple databases in a single query, dedupe results, sort (as desired by the end user; most likely by relevance), and offer post processing options. Perhaps the most important issue is database selection help; with technology coming online, that can be made easier. This is key because, in truth, most users just want results and care little where they are coming from. Resource selection can be and should be a key role for the info professional.
All of this makes sense in our opinion. Why? If done properly, universal search/metasearch can save the end user/searcher time, effort and aggravation. If—and this is a big if—it's done correctly. If it's done incorrectly, you've created a mess.
What's really nice about the article is its collection of examples of how various search sites implement this concept, there for you to click on, examine, and compare. So it's an analysis and, at the same time, a sort of tutorial.
Click HERE to read ResourceShelf's "Let's Talk Metasearch, Federated Search, or Universal Search" at the ResourceShelf Web site.