As a technology in information access, this is not new. The Science, Technology and Medicine publishers have long aggregated research information by way of papers, patents, books, articles, and conference proceedings for the research community. These services are available commercially throughout the world.
So what can a new company floated by information aggregation professionals can do in such an old field? We asked Rahul Agarwalla, co-founder of Knimbus, a knowledge sharing platform for researchers and pat came the answer:
"It's about Information. We have Google ranking pages based on relevance matching text and providing link backs. Social networks have evolved social tagging. We are trying to build an information signal around what the researcher has done around commenting, tagging and consuming."
So, Knimbus is following a vision were researchers not only consume information from various sources but also comment on its relevance to their field thus increasing its relevance to others who are following the domain. This automatically creates a layer of tagging signaling others on its importance.
The obvious question one would get is whether the research community is open to sharing, tagging and generally putting their thoughts in public. If one looks closely, it's the research community which is actually driving a move to open access to its research material, hitherto blocked behind pay walls and subscriptions. For instance, Grigori Perelman, the Russian reclusive mathematics genius, posted his proof on Cornell's arXiv.org proving the Poincare's Conjecture. arXiv provides open access to thousands of research papers.
"Science and technology is not a solitary pursuit. There is much collaboration. Collaboration always existed. They had their networks. Making these networks electronic we made it more efficient."
Rahul Agarwalla and Tarun Arora started Knimbus in 2010. Rahul had worked on aggregation solutions during the 90s and spent eight years in Japan implementing advanced text search algorithms. Tarun had been selling GIST to Indian academic and research community. The two decided to build Knimbus.
"[Inexpensive] Access to research information is a key aspect in improving the quality of R&D. A researcher reads upto 25-60 papers before he writes his own. So we saw an opportunity to build Knimbus."
Science, technology and medicine was the first one to move from informal networks to electronic domain. As we saw earlier, most of these are expensive:
"Knimbus' philosophy is: search should be free. All patent offices are electronic. It does not make sense to make search expensive."
Rahul is bullish on their business as the world is moving to inexpensive and flexible platforms for sharing research.