Two-Part Series On Discovery And Serendipity With Government Information : Discovery

Two-Part Series on Discovery and Serendipity with Government Information

Part 1: Discovery

Yewno Discover now includes information from the United States Federal Government.  As we’ve worked to break this content out of its silos and make it accessible for our users, we’ve spent time thinking about the unique opportunities around finding information, and the joys of serendipity that emerge throughout the process.  This is the first of two blog posts about the experience.

Government information provides a unique opportunity to see the power of semantic discovery leveled against highly-siloed information.  Traditionally, information had to be stored in silos in order to be discoverable, and that structure can be tremendously helpful for digging into specific topics, following a specific author.  Yet, this also makes it challenging to explore the broader pool of information.

With content spread across thousands of offices and websites, government information is an incredibly challenging and fragmented resource.  All of this information combines to drive the rule of law: in the United States, regulation (Executive Branch), legislative, and judicial decisions combine to impact virtually every individual and business nationwide (sometimes even internationally!)  Additionally, each of these sources typically overlap as they establish the rule of law.

Yewno recently launched government information as another resource on our Discover platform, giving us an opportunity to encounter some unique insights while exploring this information in aggregate.  As someone interested in international security, my first search for government data in Discover was for the concept of Operation Enduring Freedom.  One of the first connections was with the related concept, Weapons of Mass Destruction.  This search led to documents detailing hearings on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, related to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2003.  These hearings documented conversation around Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD, less than seven months after 9/11.  This document lays out one of the steps in the pivot from Afghanistan to Iraq.

  Connecting Operation Enduring Freedom and Weapons of Mass Destruction in Yewno Discover

Connecting Operation Enduring Freedom and Weapons of Mass Destruction in Yewno Discover

Within the same content set, we also discover an article from Joint Force Quarterly discussing “Trends in Future Warfare,” which notes how the threat of WMD forced alterations in how military forces deployed and operated.  While the previous Congressional hearings indicate the geopolitical impact of these weapons, this research report details some of the immediate effects on soldiers and commanders in the field.  These articles could propel significant exploration and awareness, but they were previously disconnected and buried alongside millions of other government documents.

Government content covers far more than military affairs.  Charlotte Scott, an undergraduate studying Political Science at Colgate University, wanted to learn more about how economic policy is crafted.  She used Discover’s Knowledge Map to make new connections and obtain documents from a wide range of agencies that previously would have never been accessible in one place.  Charlotte said, “Yewno Discover is a useful research tool for navigating complex and lengthy legislative text and locating pertinent public policy information through a variety of government channels. This is an ideal interface for both my undergraduate and internship-based federal research.”

  Searching for the levers of Economic Policy in Yewno Discover

Searching for the levers of Economic Policy in Yewno Discover

When we begin to break information out of silos, we begin to encounter insights that would have previously been very challenging to explore.  We’ve seen this through the past several years of academic exploration, from high schoolers to undergraduates and graduate students.  We’re now beginning to discover this through government content, as well, and we’re excited to provide this to our users!

Come back next week to learn more about the power of serendipity in discovery!

Jun Ge