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Yaffle may become Google of academia

By Josh BoyterEditor in Chief

The gates of the ivory tower have long been a menacing and highly protected place with watchdogs, passwords and reluctant faculty. This is all beginning to change with a highly innovative and simple idea: tear the gates down.
Over the past three years, Memorial University has come up with a new search engine: Yaffle. A Newfoundland term that means an armload of fish or sticks, Yaffle is the prized new flagship idea that is beginning to revolutionize how research reaches faculty, students and the public.
This is changing how we access academic information online. The online search engine works as a database, categorizing various research projects that are being conducted by faculty and staff. It encourages communication and collaboration on various research efforts.
The ability to enrich current research is phenomenal. We often get bogged-down in our own work, frequently researching with blinders on. Collaboration can sometimes be difficult to achieve since academic research may not be widely known. Such technology can aid in developing large working groups, who are neither bound by institution nor borders to work together.
Additionally, this allows for a two-way conversation to emerge with interested parties, including the general public. The dissemination of ideas can aid in enriching lives far outside academic institutions, as higher education become more expensive and less of an opportunity.
The coupling of this technology with new initiatives such as Apple U can help bridge the stifling gap that exists between “Northern” and “Southern” researchers. Many researchers in the South may not have access to higher education or research assistance, but may have valuable insight into a particular social or research problem. These can include poverty, food security and education. The ability for projects such as Yaffle to connect researchers who have strong liaising partnerships with interested and engaged partners in the developing world is a massive feat. Research can now become more focused, and tailored.
With the explosion of the Internet over the past 15 years, a great deal of poor information has been born. Often, rigorously conducted research is safeguarded for a privileged few. The safe keeping of research has helped proliferate poor websites with little or no knowledge value. The opening of academic information to a wider audience can aid in developing stronger, more educated opinions. The development of new social media can aid in bridging the ivory tower, general public divide and create a stronger network of informants and research counterparts.
While Yaffle is still in its infancy, the potential for this tool is endless. While the ivory tower still remains guarded, there appear to be cracks in the mortar. Bridging the chasm that has existed in relation to academia and the public is important. Yaffle in conjunction with dedicated students and faculty can aid in revolutionizing how we conduct and develop research.

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