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Re: [ebook-community] Indexes in ebooks

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  • Heather Hedden
    Silvia, How sophisticated are the search functions on ebooks? Can you use Boolean searching? Do you get a list of key words in context? Or do you have to page
    Message 1 of 12 , Jun 1, 2005
      Silvia,

      How sophisticated are the search functions on ebooks?
      Can you use Boolean searching? Do you get a list of key words in context? Or
      do you have to page through each of the retrieved pages one by one?

      What if I had a gardening ebook, and wanted to know how to protect my roses
      for the winter. If I searched on "roses" alone I would get many results to
      have to sort through. If I searched on "protecting roses" or "wintering
      roses" or "roses in winter" I would get no results if the exact phrase in
      the text were "winter protection for roses". But if I had an index to browse
      through I could find it any number of ways:

      Roses
      fertilizing
      pruning
      watering
      winter protection

      AND

      Protection in winter
      flower beds
      roses
      shrubs

      AND

      Winter protection
      flower beds
      roses
      shrubs

      Each entry is then hyperlinked to the appropriate place in the text, not a
      passing mention of the term, but the most substantive discussion.

      --Heather Hedden

      ------------------------------------
      Web Indexing SIG
      http://www.web-indexing.org

      Hedden Information Management
      http://www.hedden-information.com

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "SF" <starfields@...>
      To: <ebook-community@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Tuesday, May 31, 2005 8:37 PM
      Subject: RE: [ebook-community] Indexes in ebooks


      >
      >
      > -----Original Message-----
      > From: ebook-community@yahoogroups.com
      > [mailto:ebook-community@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Heather Hedden
      > Sent: 31 May 2005 20:57
      > To: ebook-community@yahoogroups.com
      > Subject: [ebook-community] Indexes in ebooks
      >
      >
      > I'm wondering how indexes (browsable alphabetical back-of-the-book
      > style) tend to be handled in creating nonfiction ebooks. I head the Web
      > Indexing Special Interest Group of the American Society Indexers,
      > www.web-indexing.org, and freelance indexers are wondering how to offer
      > their services to the ebook community.
      >
      > Heather Hedden
      > Hedden Information Management
      > www.hedden-information.com>>>
      >
      >
      >
      > It is my view, and of course, ONLY my view, that in the light of the
      > search functions available in all and even the simplest forms of
      > electronic documents, old fashioned indices are redundant altogether.
      >
      >
      > SFX
      >
      >
      >
      > Silvia Hartmann
      > http://StarFields.org
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
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    • Michael Hart
      ... Not to mention that you can create your own index very easily. mh
      Message 2 of 12 , Jun 1, 2005
        On Tue, 31 May 2005, Bill Janssen wrote:

        > Sylvia Hartmann writes:
        >> It is my view, and of course, ONLY my view, that in the light of the
        >> search functions available in all and even the simplest forms of
        >> electronic documents, old fashioned indices are redundant altogether.
        >
        > They are still awfully useful as starting points for active content.
        > For example, see
        > http://www.parc.com/uir/pubs/items/UIR-2004-01-Chi-eBookIndexes.pdf.

        Not to mention that you can create your own index very easily.

        mh
      • davec@stratfordpublishing.com
        I do eBook production for two major trade publishers. I ve never done a linked index, even when the print book had an index (and the trend is now to delete the
        Message 3 of 12 , Jun 1, 2005
          I do eBook production for two major trade publishers. I've never done
          a linked index, even when the print book had an index (and the trend
          is now to delete the print book index from the eBooks). The amount of
          work required to create the links would probably double the
          production cost of the eBook.

          I think it's purely a matter of money and time. It would be a
          different story if the original layout programs used for the print
          books were XML-based and contained tagged index terms. But starting
          from a Quark file with no such tags, creating links would be an
          immense amount of work.

          Dave Cramer

          >Silvia,
          >
          >How sophisticated are the search functions on ebooks?
          >Can you use Boolean searching? Do you get a list of key words in context? Or
          >do you have to page through each of the retrieved pages one by one?
          >
          >What if I had a gardening ebook, and wanted to know how to protect my roses
          >for the winter. If I searched on "roses" alone I would get many results to
          >have to sort through. If I searched on "protecting roses" or "wintering
          >roses" or "roses in winter" I would get no results if the exact phrase in
          >the text were "winter protection for roses". But if I had an index to browse
          >through I could find it any number of ways:
          >
          >Roses
          > fertilizing
          > pruning
          > watering
          > winter protection
          >
          >AND
          >
          >Protection in winter
          > flower beds
          > roses
          > shrubs
          >
          >AND
          >
          >Winter protection
          > flower beds
          > roses
          > shrubs
          >
          >Each entry is then hyperlinked to the appropriate place in the text, not a
          >passing mention of the term, but the most substantive discussion.
          >
          >--Heather Hedden
          >
          >------------------------------------
          >Web Indexing SIG
          ><http://www.web-indexing.org>http://www.web-indexing.org
          >
          >Hedden Information Management
          ><http://www.hedden-information.com>http://www.hedden-information.com
          >
          >----- Original Message -----
          >From: "SF" <starfields@...>
          >To: <ebook-community@yahoogroups.com>
          >Sent: Tuesday, May 31, 2005 8:37 PM
          >Subject: RE: [ebook-community] Indexes in ebooks
          >
          >
          >>
          >>
          >> -----Original Message-----
          >> From: ebook-community@yahoogroups.com
          >> [mailto:ebook-community@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Heather Hedden
          >> Sent: 31 May 2005 20:57
          >> To: ebook-community@yahoogroups.com
          >> Subject: [ebook-community] Indexes in ebooks
          >>
          >>
          >> I'm wondering how indexes (browsable alphabetical back-of-the-book
          >> style) tend to be handled in creating nonfiction ebooks. I head the Web
          >> Indexing Special Interest Group of the American Society Indexers,
          >> www.web-indexing.org, and freelance indexers are wondering how to offer
          >> their services to the ebook community.
          >>
          >> Heather Hedden
          >> Hedden Information Management
          >> www.hedden-information.com>>>
          >>
          >>
          >>
          >> It is my view, and of course, ONLY my view, that in the light of the
          >> search functions available in all and even the simplest forms of
          >> electronic documents, old fashioned indices are redundant altogether.
          >>
          >>
          >> SFX
          >>
          >>
          >>
          >> Silvia Hartmann
          >> <http://StarFields.org>http://StarFields.org
          >>
          >>
          >>
          >>
          >>
          >>
          >>
          >>
          >> --------------------------------------------------------------------
          >> Post a message: ebook-community@yahoogroups.com
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          >> Administrator: ebook-community-owner@yahoogroups.com
          >> --------------------------------------------------------------------
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          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Jon Noring
          ... Interesting paper, Bill! ... With the caveat that I m no expert at book indexing, I am under the impression that the highest quality book indexes still
          Message 4 of 12 , Jun 1, 2005
            Michael Hart wrote:
            > Bill Janssen wrote:
            >> Sylvia Hartmann writes:

            >>> It is my view, and of course, ONLY my view, that in the light of the
            >>> search functions available in all and even the simplest forms of
            >>> electronic documents, old fashioned indices are redundant altogether.

            >> They are still awfully useful as starting points for active content.
            >> For example, see
            >> http://www.parc.com/uir/pubs/items/UIR-2004-01-Chi-eBookIndexes.pdf.

            Interesting paper, Bill!

            > Not to mention that you can create your own index very easily.

            With the caveat that I'm no expert at book indexing, I am under the
            impression that the highest quality book indexes still have to be
            generated by human beings. (I surmise from this thread that many
            believe indexes can be built solely by machine processing of the
            digital text.)

            The reason is that top-quality indexes require human beings to
            understand the content, the context of that content, and the
            relationship between the various topics -- and build the indexes from
            that understanding, as well as the needs of human beings who will use
            the index. Word count algorithms are insufficienct since oftentimes
            important topics may not be properly identified and classified. Some
            of the named topics may not even appear in the text of the book, so
            how can one use word frequency to build index topics!

            For example, for a book which discusses various dog breeds, one has
            to know that dachsund, French poodle, and Australian terrier are all
            dog breeds so they can be classified under the indexing topic "dog
            breeds" (one also has to know that this is an important topic.)
            Since we do not yet have true, sentient-level artificial intelligent
            machines (e.g., Commander Data in Star Trek), we cannot soly rely on
            machines to build high-quality indexes.

            New technologies like topic maps, RDF, etc., etc. (and the interest
            in the "Semantic Web"), make it easier to build interrelationships
            between topics and words, but it still takes a human being to build a
            high-quality book index, so I believe.

            Anyway, that's my impression, which may be wrong or not even wrong. I
            do know of a couple book indexing experts who monitor this group, but
            not sure if they will reply. This includes Roger Sperberg. Roger, what
            sayest thou?

            Jon Noring
          • Richard
            ... When I re-wrote an on-disk computer manual, one of the things I did was expand the index by about a factor of three. Search is useful...if you have the
            Message 5 of 12 , Jun 1, 2005
              --- In ebook-community@yahoogroups.com, Bill Janssen <bill@j...> wrote:
              > Sylvia Hartmann writes:
              > > It is my view, and of course, ONLY my view, that in the light of the
              > > search functions available in all and even the simplest forms of
              > > electronic documents, old fashioned indices are redundant altogether.
              >
              > They are still awfully useful as starting points for active content.
              > For example, see
              > http://www.parc.com/uir/pubs/items/UIR-2004-01-Chi-eBookIndexes.pdf.
              >
              > Bill

              When I re-wrote an on-disk computer manual, one of the things I did
              was expand the index by about a factor of three.

              Search is useful...if you have the right word. Otherwise, you reach
              for your book of synonyms.

              Over thirty years ago, I played an Adventure game where I spent a good
              part of my time trying to think up alternate terms for the word I
              wanted to use.

              It has been just over forty years ago since I did my first computer
              programming.

              Rick Brooks
            • Jon Jermey
              Let me declare an interest here: I have been a professional indexer for about ten years and have co-written Website Indexing: Enhancing access to information
              Message 6 of 12 , Jun 1, 2005
                Let me declare an interest here: I have been a professional indexer for
                about ten years and have co-written 'Website Indexing: Enhancing access to
                information within websites.'

                Jon is quite right that preparing a 'real' A-Z index to a work of any length
                requires human input. Occasionally someone comes up with a program which
                they claim can do 'automated indexing', but the results from these are
                invariably dreadful: see for instance my review of a program called
                'Syntactica' (now apparently defunct) in the March 2003 edition of the
                Australian Society of Indexers (AusSI - now ANZSI) newsletter at
                http://www.aussi.org/anl/2003/02march/syntactica.htm, and Glenda Browne's
                earlier review of automated indexing at
                http://www.aussi.org/conferences/papers/browneg.htm. A contemporary example
                is Textract (www.textract.com).

                On the other hand, if the material to be indexed is homogenous and the
                desired retrieval level is not too low, automated indexing can be made to
                work well enough to be worth using: for instance, in automatic indexing for
                the retrieval of brief news reports which are written to a specific pattern.
                But for the normal sense of the terms 'book' and 'index', automated ebook
                indexing is not currently a possibility.

                The only major publisher I know of using embedded tags to create re-usable
                index entries in an electronic manuscript is Cambridge University Press. See
                https://authornet.cambridge.org/information/productionguide/stm/XML_workflow
                .asp for details.

                Jon Jermey.
              • Roger Sperberg
                ... Ah, I should declare that although I play one on the internet, I am not really a book indexing expert. I have experience in trying to take human-created
                Message 7 of 12 , Jun 13, 2005
                  Jon Noring wrote:
                  > Since we do not yet have true, sentient-level artificial
                  > intelligent machines (e.g., Commander Data in Star Trek), we cannot
                  > solely rely on machines to build high-quality indexes.
                  >
                  > New technologies like topic maps, RDF, etc., etc. (and the interest
                  > in the "Semantic Web"), make it easier to build interrelationships
                  > between topics and words, but it still takes a human being to build
                  > a high-quality book index, so I believe.
                  >
                  > Anyway, that's my impression, which may be wrong or not even wrong.
                  > I do know of a couple book indexing experts who monitor this group,
                  > but not sure if they will reply. This includes Roger Sperberg.
                  > Roger, what sayest thou?
                  >


                  Ah, I should declare that although I play one on the internet, I am
                  not really a book indexing expert.

                  I have experience in trying to take human-created indexes and make
                  greater use of them, including merging them, making them the basis for
                  creating custom publications (as opposed to using only the Table of
                  Contents), integrating book indexes with subject classification, and
                  using indexes and TOCs for generating subject-specific taxonomies.

                  From this, I've concluded that the book indexers -- and Heather has
                  heard this rant before, or part of it anyway -- need to do a great
                  deal more to make indexes usable in an electronic world.

                  There ought to be a standard XML exchange format for indexes, and
                  there ought to be tools for marking text so that back-of-the-book
                  index entries can be made into in-line markup. Then you could
                  regenerate the BOB index for new page sizes, or for combined/custom
                  books, or for revised editions. And you could make an online index
                  with links back to the spot in the online text, and the ebook
                  equivalent.

                  But this can't happen while book indexers regard the index as an
                  add-on to a print book.

                  Topic Maps and RDF both present solutions for mergeable interchange
                  formats for indexes. I'd love to hear that, 12 years or so since the
                  solution was first worked out to readily merge indexes that there is
                  some awareness and readiness in the indexing community to take this
                  on.


                  Roger Sperberg

                  Electric Forest, a blog about books, digital libraries, and
                  technologies related to expressing and keeping track of our
                  thoughts... http://altheim.com/ef/
                • Judith
                  related to expressing and keeping track of our thoughts... http://altheim.com/ef/ _____________ Roger, Thank you for having your blog on the Internet. I
                  Message 8 of 12 , Jun 13, 2005
                    related to expressing and keeping track of our
                    thoughts... http://altheim.com/ef/

                    _____________
                    Roger,

                    Thank you for having your blog on the Internet. I clicked over
                    and was absolutely fascinated by your chess game near the
                    bottom.

                    Also by this statement:
                    But what all this overlooks is that e-books are being read on a
                    device - an e-book reader, a Palm or a PocketPC, or maybe a
                    laptop - that incorporates a computer. And no one is making
                    books that take advantage of this.
                    ____________

                    I Am also an artist and I love that I can take applets and make
                    a painting move. I did it with a class applet called lake and
                    applied it to a photo at http://www.soaplakecoc.org

                    So your showing me the wonders of where ebooks can be improved,
                    it also a real eye opener for my writing.

                    Thanks!!

                    Judith
                    http://www.agoodread.com
                    Sharing is the key to all our $uccess!
                  • Jon Jermey
                    I would say most indexers look on most indexes as add-ons to print books because that is what they are paid to provide. It therefore stems from the assumptions
                    Message 9 of 12 , Jun 27, 2005
                      I would say most indexers look on most indexes as add-ons to print books
                      because that is what they are paid to provide. It therefore stems from the
                      assumptions publishers make about their books. To generate an embedded index
                      that can be reused etc takes more time than creating a standalone index, and
                      therefore costs more. There is very little spare money in publishing, so
                      unless the expenditure can be justified the extra job will not be done.

                      As soon as you create an ebook, it might seem logical to say that it's worth
                      the effort to enhance the index, but this is the time at which publishers
                      and users say that the search engine will suffice. Perhaps we should be more
                      proactive in this area, to show that a manually-created linked index is
                      better than search. One thing that makes this more difficult is shown by
                      research that has found that even when people have more success finding what
                      they need with an index, they say they preferred using search. (It seems to
                      give more sense of control). So even if we go to the effort of creating a
                      better electronic system, it will be another step to persuade people that it
                      is better.

                      Secondly, to generate indexes that would be useful tools in combination,
                      some editing for consistency would have to be done, and this adds another
                      step and another cost. Although information users love to say 'information
                      is free', I say 'I'm an indexer, and I want to be paid'. And as Linda
                      Sutherland discussed on the Electric Forest blog, each book index is crafted
                      for a specific need. If book indexes are created with the view to being
                      eventually combined, then indexers will have to work with their main eye on
                      the growing cumulative version, and only half an eye on the specific work
                      they are trying to give access to. The job becomes more akin to
                      bibliographic database indexing or cataloguing than it is to book indexing.

                      WRT XML exchange formats, I haven't worked with it, but I thought DocBook
                      was a standard format. And certainly a number of publishers, particularly
                      computer book publishers and Cambridge University Press, are using embedded
                      indexing to make it easier to reuse indexes in later versions.

                      I'm impressed that you've done work with merging indexes etc. Is this for
                      collections of electronic books? And when you use indexes in taxonomy
                      creation is this automated, or do you use them for insipiration and select
                      terms one at a time?

                      Sorry for delay in posting this reply. The topic is of great interest to me.


                      Regards,

                      Glenda Browne.


                      > Ah, I should declare that although I play one on the internet, I am
                      > not really a book indexing expert.
                      >
                      > I have experience in trying to take human-created indexes and make
                      > greater use of them, including merging them, making them the basis for
                      > creating custom publications (as opposed to using only the Table of
                      > Contents), integrating book indexes with subject classification, and
                      > using indexes and TOCs for generating subject-specific taxonomies.
                      >
                      > From this, I've concluded that the book indexers -- and Heather has
                      > heard this rant before, or part of it anyway -- need to do a great
                      > deal more to make indexes usable in an electronic world.
                      >
                      > There ought to be a standard XML exchange format for indexes, and
                      > there ought to be tools for marking text so that back-of-the-book
                      > index entries can be made into in-line markup. Then you could
                      > regenerate the BOB index for new page sizes, or for combined/custom
                      > books, or for revised editions. And you could make an online index
                      > with links back to the spot in the online text, and the ebook
                      > equivalent.
                      >
                      > But this can't happen while book indexers regard the index as an
                      > add-on to a print book.
                      >
                      > Topic Maps and RDF both present solutions for mergeable interchange
                      > formats for indexes. I'd love to hear that, 12 years or so since the
                      > solution was first worked out to readily merge indexes that there is
                      > some awareness and readiness in the indexing community to take this
                      > on.
                      >
                      >
                      > Roger Sperberg
                      >
                      > Electric Forest, a blog about books, digital libraries, and
                      > technologies related to expressing and keeping track of our
                      > thoughts... http://altheim.com/ef/
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >
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