The Yellow Pages do not list a category of 1-800 numbers for ufos, but a simple search on the latest Internet tool called Harvest just might help find a number to dial.
Thanks to Harvest, a user can easily find the AT&T 1-800 number on a variety of subjects, including ufos, whether it be the Mutual UFO Investigators Network of Illinois or the UFO Car and Limo Service of New York City.
Harvest, devloped at the University of Colorado, is an integrated set of tools that search, gather, organize, and copy information across the Internet. Users can customize searches to look for information connected to names, subjects, locations, and phone numbers, even if the queries are partial numbers or misspelled names.
"The other systems will not scale to handle resource discovery as the Internet grows," says Michael Schwartz, an associate professor of computer science at the University of Colorado. "Harvest is much more customized." Schwartz, who helped create Harvest, says the new software will help users wade through the vast ocean of information available on the Internet with its links to an AT&T 1-800 database, a World Wide Web home page directory and a multitude of government indexes.
Harvest is being "mirrored" at seven sites in five countries, and over 450 sites in 27 countries have retrieved the software from the Colorado copy alone. In fact, the Colorado replicas of the Harvest indexes are so popular that they have been used by over 10,800 sites in 90 countries.
Harvest can be accessed on the Web at http://harvest.cs.colorado.edu. Its design is flexible, allowing a user to "plug and play" with a variety of information indexing and searching tools. Currently, Harvest uses only textual searching engines, but Schwartz says he eventually would like to see more multimedia aspects such as audio and image search engines attached to the software.
To use Harvest in finding information on a subject, users can type in a few key words within the given query choices in the Harvest indexes. The software will then scan files on the Internet and compile a list of sources, phone numbers, or other information requested on the subject. Unlike other information extracting tools such as Veronica or Archie, Harvest is used to ease the strain on servers, or host computers, as well as the overall network traffic.
According to Schwartz, there are two kinds of Harvest users: people who use the software to build indexes and people who use the indexes. As more users build indexes with Harvest, there could be a result of more subjects attracting different kinds of users.
"Think of it like starting a new magazine targeting a particular subculture," Schwartz says. "Once you make it sufficiently appealling to their topical interests and cultural norms, it attracts a readership. The idea of building indexes that are targeted and editorialized for a certain community is a key notion in Harvest, and one that is needed in the Internet," Schwartz says.
Harvest is in the first phase of a $2 million, multi-year project funded by the Advance Research Projects Agency, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the National Science Foundation, Hughes Aircraft Company, and Sun Microsystems of Mountain View, California.
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