Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Thomson Reuters to sell Dialog to ProQuest

Most of you will not be interested in this news that broke on June 12 -- Thomson Reuters has agreed to sell Dialog to ProQuest. I wrote a thoughtful blog post on it last week in the Special Libraries Association blog. At the end of that post, I wondered if Google would ever buy Dialog for its content repositories. Roger Summit, the father of Dialog, posted a comment and wondered what would have happened if Dialog had been purchased by Google now instead of ProQuest. ProQuest and Google are going after two different markets. Google is about making information available to as many people as possible. In its letter to subscribers dated June 12,2008, the executive vice president of Thomson Reuters said:
Together, Dialog and ProQuest will be able to provide the authoritative content and precise search tools essential for the information professional market in the 21st Century.
Later he wrote:
ProQuest intends to invest aggressively in Dialog, refreshing the Dialog and DataStar platforms and meeting the needs of next-generation users.
Here's the problem...the information professionals of today want tools that give them flexible search options, that integrate with others tools (including federated search), and that can be used by a broad group of people with a variety of search skills. Search is not just for professionals anymore; it is someting everyone does. For Dialog and DataStar to be successful into the future, they need to retool themselves not for the information professional market, but for the broader market that includes white collar workers, knowledge workers, academics and students...if not even ordinary people. Dialog has the world's largest digital newspaper archive -- wouldn't you want to be able to search that easily, too? (The letter does not qualify their newspaper archive as being the largest of current materials, but I think that qualifier should be placed on it, since there are massive archives of historic newspapers.)

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