2007/12/27

Searching VO data repositories

Bob Hanish (Project Manager for the National Virtual Observatory) gave an interesting talk about the NVO at the Public Lecture Series at the Space Telescope Science Institute where he talks to the general public about the history and future of the NVO.

I found his talk interesting, really approachable and like the fact that, given the audience, he gave a very general introduction. However, I have to admit I was rather surprised to see that he fails to see the strong potential of meta-tagging: something that is taking the web by storm!
Think of Flick, for example.

During his talk he seems to dismiss Google-like search engines and their ability to "index" NVO data simply because they "index text" and cannot reliably index images, FITS files or other data. He adds that for this reason "the VO goes beyond what Google [read any search engine like Google] can do".

I simply disagree. The problem is hard and complex, but recent developments by the Hubble Legacy Archive. for example, seem to hint at scenarios where proper meta-tagging will play a key role: the NVO needs a working, modern registry!