The event is a workshop introducing its participants to methodologies for the systematic evaluation and monitoring of search engines, and for discussing future trends and requirements for the next generation of information access systems. In other words, it is right up our alley at Findwise.
As Director of Research at Findwise I will speak about Search as a Service. If you are at the event or just nearby I would be happy to meet up and have a chat. I will be around from Tuesday March 5 until Thursday March 7. Feel free to email me, firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call at +46709443905.
This years keynote speaker was Dan Russell, a researcher from Google. He talked about Search Quality and user happiness; Why search is easy and hard. The point I found most interesting in his presentation was how improvement is not only needed when it comes to tools and data but also improving the users’ search skills. My own experience from various search projects is similar; users are not good at searching. Even though they are looking for a specific version of a technical documentation for a specific product they might just enter the name of the product, or even the product family. (It’s a bit like searching for ‘camera’ when you expect to find support documentation on your Dioptric lens for you Canon EOS 60D.) So I agree that users need better search skills. In his presentation Russell also presented some ideas on how a search application can help users improve their search skills.
Search is both easy and hard. Perhaps this is one of the reasons for the introduction of the HCIR Challenge as a new part of the workshop . From the HCIR website:
The aims of the challenge are to encourage researchers and practitioners to build and demonstrate information access systems satisfying at least one of the following:
Not only deliver relevant documents, but provide facilities for making meaning with those documents.
Increase user responsibility as well as control; that is, the systems require and reward human effort.
Offer the flexibility to adapt to user knowledge / sophistication / information need.
Are engaging and fun to use.
The winner of the challenge was a team of researchers from Yahoo Labs who presented Searching Through Time in the New York Times. The Time Explorer features a results page with an interactive time line that illustrates how the volume of articles (results) have changed over time. I recommend that you read the article in tech review to learn more about the project, or try out the Time explorer demo yourself. You can also learn more about the challenge in this blog post by Gene Golovchinsky.
All the papers and posters from the workshop can be found on the new website.