The economics and ABCs of indexes

Abstract of Montague Institute article on using Alphanumeric indexes of terms and cross references. Full text available to members only.

By giving users a familiar, browsable structure of terms and cross references, the A - Z index eliminates a major frustration of full text search engines -- the inability to formulate an effective query. More than just a finding tool, the index is an intellectual product in its own right, capable of shedding new light on a subject. The value of an index varies with the time value of the user, the number of users, and the frequency of use. The cost is modest compared to the total cost of a professional book. The economics of indexes are harder to calculate on a corporate intranet because the benefits to specific users are harder to pin down. From a quality control and cost/benefit point of view, it's easier to index departmental collections and then integrate them into a corporate taxonomy