Vol. 8 Issue 1 2001
In this issue
75 Years of Looking to the Future
1 An Interview with John Anderson, President of BIOSIS
Before coming to BIOSIS, you worked at the
National Library of Medicine, principally with
Medline. How did your time at the NLM affect
your approach when you came to BIOSIS?
I oversaw the development of the first, and only,
significant PC software package for medicine
called Grateful Med. That radically changed the
nature of medical information. It changed the
behavior of 400,000 health professionals;
because they suddenly had a PC package that
they could use to get access to Medline without
going to the library or the librarian.
When I came to BIOSIS, my goal was to do on a
corporate level what I did on a product level at
the National Library of Medicine. I was clear to
the BIOSIS Board of Trustees that if what they
wanted from me was just another Grateful Med,
I had no interest in coming to BIOSIS. I wanted
to do something on a more corporate level. And
I believe I have, and that's overseeing the
implementation of Relational Indexing.
What was the inspiration for Relational Indexing?
Relational Indexing isn't available on Grateful Med,
so it wasn't from your work at NLM.
Absolutely not. It is similar to the whole NLM
experience in that it's a radical new idea that
changes the behavior process of a whole
company and a lot of users.
We needed a better indexing tool to handle new
technology issues, particularly the Internet.
Back in '93 and '94, when the Internet was the
big thing in the news, no one knew quite what
it was going to be. What was clear to the
executives and management at BIOSIS was that
old-fashioned keyword indexing wouldn't come
close to handling it.
So we seized on Relational Indexing as a more
powerful organizational process to cope with the
Internet. And the good news is, we hit it right.
It also does a much better job of processing
traditionally published information from journals
and books, but that's really a by-product. The
goal of Relational Indexing was to deal with the
Internet. And we're just now on the threshold
What makes Relational Indexing that much
different than the indexing systems that BIOSIS
implemented before it?
Earlier indexing versions either were only slight
improvements or focused on internal processing
efficiency. Relational Indexing, on the other
hand, has many more new capabilities for the
end-user. It's a better, more precise searching
method. In evidence of this, we're now in
alliance with some of our former competitors,
, Elsevier, and others who want to use our
version of the database with their products.
What do you see as some of the biggest challenges
The Internet is an even bigger development than
personal computing was 15 years ago. The trick
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Vol. 8 Issue 1 2001
YEARS OF LOOKING TO THE