Inomics (http://www.inomics.com), the new international Internet service for economists, has started its public service in June 1998. Inomics offers services tailored to the interests of economists and other people interested in economics:
This article briefly describes the main elements and features of this new service.
The first of the three main elements of Inomics is EconSearch, a search engine for economics information on the Internet. It is based on a full-text index of currently more than 100.000 web pages. This index is permanently extended by adding more sites and pages with relevant information.
Contrary to the well-known "Resources for Economists on the Internet" by Bill Goffe (http://www.rfe.org) and WebEc by Lauri Saarinen (http://www.helsinki.fi/WebEc/) EconSearch is not a hierachical catalogue of site descriptions but rather a full-text index.
Usually, such index-based search engines like Altavista or Hotbot tend to return many unwanted references if asked for a term with several meanings. Searching for "game", e.g., yields references to football games, poker games and game theory. The Inomics index, however, only returns the latter since only economics pages have been indexed.
Most query language elements familiar from the major search engines like string search, truncation, Booleans and proximity operators also work with the Inomics search engine. In addition, one may restrict the query to certain categories of documents. The currently available categories are:
Currently the classification of web pages as relevant for Inomics is done by humans. If a new site with supposedly economics content is submitted, somebody at Inomics checks the URL and also the submitted category. Then the site is spidered and the document as well as further documents on the same site and linked to the original one are added to the index. Some efforts are under way to automatise the procedure of classification and to extend the number of categories. Since this involves a considerable amount of artificial intelligence, however, it will only slowly find its way into the service.
The second section of Inomics is job openings for economists. As the job market for economists becomes more and more a global job market, Inomics contains job openings from all over the world.
To avoid an information overflow for the job seeker, the query can be restricted to openings with certain characteristics, the most important of which is the JEL classification given by the job supplier. Other searchable characteristics are the continent, the type of institution (e.g.university, government or industry) and the level of the job (e.g. professor, post doc, professional, assistant).
Adding job openings to the database is possible by filling out a web form. Links to other web pages can easily be included in the text of the job opening. If requested, the job supplier will receive a weekly statistic by email stating the number of views of the job opening for the previous week. Currently adding openings is free for all kinds of jobs, although in the future it is planned to charge for-profit institutions.
Job seekers can define their personal interest profile (e.g. only job openings in macroeconomics at African universities) and will then receive a weekly notification via e-mail if new openings meeting their profile have been added to the database during the previous week.
The third section containing conference announcements is very similar to the job opening section. It contains a conference calendar with conferences announcements from all over the world in all subject areas.
Also in this section a query can be restricted to certain JEL classifications or continents. It is also possible to restrict the query to conferences with a job market or to those where it is still possible to submit papers.
New conference announcements or calls for papers are also added via a web form. As conference descriptions tend to be rather complex, Inomics contains only the most important information and requires a link to the conference web site for further information.
Just as in the job opening section it is also possible to define a personal profile for a weekly conference alert email.
The basic idea behind Inomics is that of a community service where some members of the community supply information of interest to other members. Part of the economics community are, however, not only idealistic economists living for the truth and advancement of science but also commercial entities like publishers of economics literature or the makers of econometrics software.
These can find in Inomics a new forum to advertise to economists their services or new products, whether these are traditional or belong to the new media. This has advantages for all sides: The users of Inomics are not bothered by advertising they are not interested in, and the advertisers find a target group which is very receptive to their messages. Last but not least advertising supplies Inomics with the necessary revenues to continue its service free of charge.