November 24, 2017

Todd Miller | Movers & Shakers 2002

The Convergence Guy

Making it possible to search across systems

“It was a complete accident,” says Todd Miller, founder and CEO of WebFeat. “I was in an office, back in 1998, when someone asked if you could search two web sites at once.” The solution, of course, was WebFeat, a “knowledge prism” that allows users to search multiple databases–such as catalogs and periodicals databases–through a single interface. It is now employed by such major library systems as King County Public Library, WA, and the Southeast Florida Library Information Network (SEFLIN), as well as large corporations.

Miller’s career in library information systems was a happy accident as well. It began in 1986 when Miller, who was working in Michigan, wanted to get to Silicon Valley. He took a job as a product manager with Information Access Company. Miller, who had no compelling interest in the library market, “figured I’d just put in some time.”

Vitals


Current position: CEO, WebFeat

Degree: B.S., Business, University of Texas at Austin, 1982

Hobbies: Running, ran in the 2001 New York City Marathon; scuba diving; writing the great American novel very slowly

Who knew?: He was in the world ballroom dance championships in Blackpool, England, in 1982

Motto: Carpe Diem

His task was to convert InfoTrac from analog laser disks to the standalone CD-ROM. The product swept the library market, and Miller went on to work on InfoTrac 2000. He left the company in 1992, going on to work with several companies, including Knight-Ridder, which partnered with IBM on a document delivery service that won the best infrastructure award from the Gartner Group in 1996.

Miller confesses that during his undergrad years he found libraries confusing, intimidating, and not terribly relevant to his life. Now, he considers libraries the country’s “best kept secret.” While Miller is bullish on libraries, he thinks they are nowhere near their potential. For many library managers, WebFeat is doing just that–helping libraries reach their potential. “Now they can see what we’ve got,” says Tom Sloan, SEFLIN’s executive director. With WebFeat, the print collections of Sloan’s member libraries show up in search results along with database holdings and web site results from web search engines.

What’s in the future? Miller sees two general trends. “One is toward more integration. The other is toward greater reach…. I see some exciting things happening on the horizon with wireless technology and PDA access to library content.” With an eye on convergence, Miller may be able to help all that happen.

Share