Web portal celebrates Ben Franklin

In honor of Benjamin Franklin’s 300th birthday next week, a search engine company has launched a free, searchable Web portal that aggregates Franklin’s writing, proverbs and other resources.

The portal, available at ben.clusty.com, targets educators, students, researchers and others who want to find information related to Franklin, whose tercentenary is Jan. 17.

The portal was created by Pittsburgh-based Vivisimo, which has developed search technology that clusters information into related categories. According to the company, it received support from the National Science Foundation, the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Office of Commonwealth Libraries, the Carnegie Science Center and the Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center.

“Vivisimo got its start thanks to taxpayer research funding through the National Science Foundation and Pennsylvania’s own Ben Franklin economic development initiative,” said Raul Valdes-Perez, the company’s chief executive officer and co-founder, in a press release.

“We have a duty to give back,” he added. “Ben Franklin’s tercentenary provides a perfect chance for Vivisimo to show how modern search technologies enable the creation of a powerful portal site with tremendous value above and beyond what a regular Web search brings.”

It’s not clear how much information is available on the Web about Franklin, but according to company officials, the portal can present thousands of credible resources, including original writings, on the founding father and can filter out unrelated “Ben Franklins.”

The company created Clusty.com, a consumer search engine, and it launched a search engine specifically for government last year. Last fall the company and Microsoft MSN Search won a federal contract to revamp the government’s FirstGov search portal.

Franklin, who was born Jan. 17, 1706, in Boston, was a printer, published Poor Richard’s Almanack, created the country’s first subscription library, conducted science experiments, was an inventor, helped draft the Declaration of Independence and signed the Constitution.

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