Over the weekend I spent considerable effort searching. I used both commercial (LexisNexis) and Open Source (Google) search products. Why? I like free first if it’s good and I like to check against my free resources in a highly sophisticated and precise search environment to make sure I got it all.
What I discovered during the weekend is that Google is becoming more and more like a conglomerate commercial database. Now I know that I’m not the first to make this comparison. What I do know is that many long-time researchers may, like me, be slow in seeing the parallel universes.
As Google Books expands and moves forward, it will just add another “collection” to the Google Source options. With News, Video, Images, Google Scholar, Patents, Google Local and more you have similar collections to news, corporate, and legal sources.
Is the precision and depth available that you have through Factiva, LexisNexis and Thomson Reuters? No. Is Google a viable source to be considered when conducting in-depth research? Absolutely. Will you need to employ your information resource validation skills, most certainly.
Google will continue to develop their collections of information. Their partnerships will add content in ways that commercial providers probably will not be able to keep up with. Advocates who want to protect open content have an ally with Google. Traditional information aggregators have a new competitor that must be taken into consideration. Researchers have an entirely new level of possible sources.