One or two individuals are typically responsible for the daily maintenance of the MITAP system, including a number of administrative tasks, such as adding new user accounts as they are requested, informing users (with an e-mail distribution list) of changes to the system (for example, new data sources, outages for planned maintenance) and obtaining user feedback by online surveys.
Most of the sources that are currently connected to MITAP are either web sites or e-mail lists.
For example, to improve our named entity tagging (for example, to better handle Arabic names), a programmer or linguist familiar with ALEMBIC needs to develop new tagging rules and, working with one of the general MITAP administrators, upgrade the running system.
MITAP has been accessible to users since June 2001.
Figure 14 illustrates averaged daily MITAP activity from July 2001 through the end of June 2002.
One regular user, a consultant to an organization of medical professionals, spends 1 to 2 hours a day reading 800 to 1000 MITAP articles from over 50 mostly foreign sources.
The Disease of the Month Experiment, a series of user-centered, task-based minievaluations, was designed to assess utility, evaluate usability, measure progress, and provide iterative feedback to MITAP developers.
In our experiments, MITAP users provided more detail and more up-to-date information on disease outbreaks than the web alone; however, they did not necessarily spend less time doing so.
This ongoing evaluation series has proven to be an invaluable method of measuring utility, usability, and progress of MITAP. The results of the experiments have guided development, improved the system on many levels, inspired creative thinking, and given us a more comprehensive understanding of what our real users do and how we can better help them.
The popularity of MITAP and the TIDES World Press Update is growing monthly by word of mouth.
Our core research on MITAP will shift focus to biomedical translingual data and associated features.
(1.) MITAP (MITRE Text and Audio Processing) System 2001, http://tides2000.mitre.org/.