Ad verba per numeros


Tuesday, June 7, 2011, 10:59 AM
Warning: this is not a summary of Marti A. Hearst keynote speech but just a brief, partial (and biased) collection of notes and links (from Marti's slides) on some aspects from her speech that struck a chord on me. Besides, I wrote most of this in the middle of the coffee break so it's a quick and dirty post but I prefer to do it while still fresh the memories.

The title of the keynote was "Emerging Trends in Search User Interfaces" and, thus, a number of different future lines of work were depicted. I was mostly interested in the social aspects of search.

On one hand you have the collaborative/cooperative aspect of social search. That is, users actively cooperating to fulfill an information need by means of a search engine. Needless to say, UIs are key to solve this kind of task. A number of interesting resources can be consulted for deeper study of this:

Additionally you can find of interest the following chapters from the same book by Marti.

A second interesting aspect of this social search trend is the way in which users ask their social networks for information. Marti cited the work by
Morris et al. at CHI 2010. According to that work users mostly ask for recommendations (29%), opinion (22%), and factual information (17%) which, IMHO, makes a lot of sense and makes search in social media (not to confuse with social search, my opinion) quite a different thing from "tradicional" Web-IR.

An extension of this ask-your-social-network would be asking experts within the social network. In this regard, she mentioned the work by Richardson and White on WWW 2011 which seems pretty interesting stuff but, unfortunately, I haven't had the time to read yet.

Final interesting remarks from her talk:

  • User interfaces are key for this "ask the network" kind of tasks (e.g. stackoverflow.com)
  • Implicit human-generated suggestions beat purely machine-generated ones (e.g. spelling, query term suggestions, recommendations, ranking).
  • Explicit recommendation systems are also important (e.g. digg, blekko, stumbleupon)
  • "Seeing what people you know have seen" is key too.
  • Users demand "natural interfaces", they tend to use increasingly longer queries, they would like to use natural language and "sloppy commands" (i.e. kind of command languages but much more flexible in both the commands and their syntax) are an ongoing trend.
Of course, this would not be a typical post of mines if I didn't provide some additional links and a bit of shameless-self-promotion.

As usual, if you want to comment on this post just look for me at Twitter: @PFCdgayo.


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