April 5, 2013
LinkedIn wants to make search easier for its members. The Computerworld article “LinkedIn Sharpens Search Engine Feature” gives all of the details about the new revamped search system. With this new system LinkedIn wants its members to be able to find information easier on their site. LinkedIn’s initial goal was to provide a place for professionals to place their career bios as well as interact with their peers and colleagues. However, LinkedIn has grown and now serves a much larger audience. Companies as well as various groups have set up pages. In addition there is a job section as well as a section where individuals and publishers can share or posts comments, as well as provide links to articles. LinkedIn’s search engine sales 5.7 billion queries last year alone so the new search features will definitely reach a large audience. Johnathan Podemsky, a LinkedIn product manager shared the following
“Now, all you need to do is type what you’re looking for into the search box and you’ll see a comprehensive page of results that pulls content from all across LinkedIn including people, jobs, groups and companies.”
In addition to segmenting their results users will also enjoy auto-complete and suggested search capabilities to help them fine-tune their query terms. The search engine will also keep a log of members search queries in order to help deliver better results. It is important to note that these changes will only be applied to the main site and not the mobile application. Regardless, these new search features will definitely improve LinkedIn search capabilities for users. It seems that LinkedIn is definitely paying attention to the needs of their users and takes search very serious. Users want good results but they also want a user friendly and efficient search system. Looks like LinkedIn is on the right page.
April Holmes, April 05, 2013
April 4, 2013
This morning I read “As Web Search Goes Mobile, Competitors Chip at Google’s Lead.” Keep in mind that when the link goes dead you will need the paper edition of the story on pages A 1 and A 4 of the April 4, 2013 issue or a for fee password to the New York Times’s online service.)
The main point is that mobile is surging. For many reasons, mobile search does not work the way desktop search and Web surfing worked when Backrub was bubbling toward Google. The article identifies the geolocation trend where coordinates coupled with some data about user behavior can deliver a place to buy coffee.
The article then says:
No longer do consumers want to search the Web like the index of a book — finding links at which a particular keyword appears. They expect new kinds of customized search, like that on topical sites such as Yelp, TripAdvisor or Amazon, which are chipping away at Google’s hold. Google and its competitors are trying to develop the knowledge and comprehension to answer specific queries, not just point users in the right direction.
The story then points out that there are 30 trillion Web address which is definitely quite a few places to index content. Searching a massive index with 2.5 words just does not work for “consumers.”
The story identifies social systems which put a person closer to someone or some information from someone which answers the user’s question. The wrap up to the article quotes a Google “fellow” who correctly states a Google truism:
“Most people have this very strong Google habit,” he said. “I go there every day and it gives me information I want, so it’s a self-reinforcing cycle. Not anyone can come in and just do those things.”
So what exactly is happening in consumer search? Outfits like Amazon and LinkedIn look like they are growing and presumably taking traffic from Google. On the other hand, Google seems confident that its market share and its remarkable diversity of ways to present information to users is in pretty good shape. Is this a chess-type draw, a paradox, or an analysis which makes search almost impossible to discuss without getting lost in clicks, segments, traffic, and user behavior data?
My view is that search has become a word which is acceptable in some circles and the equivalent of a curse word in others. Consumer wants answers to questions, and according to some experts, answers to questions the user does not know she yet has formulated. Vendors want revenue. Advertisers want people to buy their products and services. Teens want whatever teens want. Each tiny grouping of online users which can be labeled has search needs.
The problem is that figuring out exactly what the “need” is in a specific context is a field where further research and innovation are needed.
April 4, 2013
For companies tackling big problems related to large sets of data, Grant Ingersoll has the solution – search. At the recent GigaOm Structure: Data Conference, Ingersoll, CTO of LucidWorks, recommends that organizations take another look at search solutions. GigaOm covers the details in their story, “How Search Can Solve Big Data Problems.”
The article begins:
“There are many solutions for figuring out how to parse large amounts of data, but LucidWorks CTO Grant Ingersoll has a suggestion: use search. At GigaOM’s Structure:Data conference in New York City Thursday, Ingersoll laid out his case for why search is a big part of dealing with databases and indexes. ‘Search should be a critical part of your architecture,’ he told attendees. It is a system building block for any large problem you’re trying to solve that requires a ranked set of results. And it doesn’t have to be just text search, it can be for any type of search, he said.”
Ingersoll goes on to assert that search has changed dramatically quickly. For those organizations that have not updated their search solution in several years, there are more options on the market that are likely to serve their purposes more effectively. LucidWorks, Ingersoll’s company, is a longstanding name in the field, and yet has undergone dramatic changes even in the last few years. If your organization is exploring options for more effective search and Big Data management, LucidWorks is worth a serious look.
Emily Rae Aldridge, April 4, 2013
April 4, 2013
Ah, the excitement of scaling. The ParseBlog gives developers some practical advice in, “Implementing Scalable Search on a NoSQL Backend.” As the makers of the popular cloud platform used by such conspicuous clients as Cisco, Ferrari, and the Food Network, Parse should know what they’re talking about, particularly when it comes to working with their product.
Engineer Brad Kittenbrink emphasizes that simple search algorithms, perfectly good for quickly getting a prototype up and running, can lead to seriously bogged-down performance later. He writes:
“The key to making searches run efficiently is to minimize the number of documents that have to be examined when executing each query by using an index. To do that you need to keep in mind what kinds of queries you want to support when designing how to organize your data. The more structured and limited these queries are, the easier this will be. . . .
“To organize your data model to support efficient searching, you’ll need to know a bit about how our systems are operating behind the abstraction. You’ll need to build your data model in a way that it’s easy for us to build an index for the data you want to be searchable.”
The post notes that Parse has implemented some new features to make searches more efficient, and goes on to give a couple of examples, including some sample code. Launched in 2011, the company is located in San Francisco. And, by the way, they are hiring.
Cynthia Murrell, April 04, 2013
April 3, 2013
Is there anything Google isn’t affiliated with these days? I didn’t think so. Wired reports in its article on “Google Image Search: Now With More GIF Action” that information powerhouse is now turning its sights on graphics interchange format(GIF).
“On Tuesday, Google announced via Google+ that Image Search now has an “Animated” filter. That means that if you’re only searching for animated magic, you need never be bothered with a still image again. Finally that search for Jennifer Lawrence GIFs from the Academy Awards just got a whole lot easier.”
GIF’s have been around since 1987 and have become the go to for short animations on the Web . The feature is still being worked out but for now when you search an image in Google Images, you can select the drop down menu in the Search Tools category and simply click on animations.
It doesn’t seem like a significant change to the Google lineup but it does have a consumer first approach to the addition. If Google is the only place you can filter your content to find the exact information you want, well, Google then becomes the go-to.
Leslie Radcliff, April 3, 2013
April 3, 2013
Specialized search engines are often used to located subject-specific professional or academic information in databases. Certain professions are used to shying away from the open web for fear of retrieving poor quality information. However, a new project is proving that quality medical information can be retrieved from the open web. Read more about FindZebra.com in the article, “New Medical Search Engine Quickly IDs Rare Diseases.”
The article states:
“In medical school, students are taught to concentrate on more common diseases, not ‘zebras’–slang for a surprising diagnosis. Now, the zebras have taken to the web at FindZebra.com, a new search engine for medical professionals which navigates the web quickly to identify rare and genetic diseases. Researchers . . . sought out to assess how well web search engines, such as Google, work for diagnostic queries, and what contributes to web research success or failure. The results determined that FindZebra outperformed Google Search. The authors concluded that a specialized search engine can improve online diagnostic quality without a loss of ease of use that popular search engines possess.”
It seems that quality results can be retrieved easily. This is the ultimate aim of search, quick, effective, and easy. LucidWorks aims to achieve the same goal in the much more difficult environment of enterprise search. Their expertise combines solid open source infrastructure, built on Lucene/Solr, with award winning customer support.
Emily Rae Aldridge, April 3, 2013
April 3, 2013
A recent piece from the MIT Technology Review that examines “The Rare Disease Search Engine That Outperforms Google” compares apples with oranges. The real takeaway is much bigger than a swipe at Google—that technical innovation is being used to help humanity.
Rare diseases are notoriously difficult to diagnose, and medical professionals have been using an Internet search engine, usually Google, to help with the process for years. Of course, Google was not designed for that use, so researchers have created a tailor-made engine to streamline this difficult but essential task. The article informs us:
“Radu Dragusin at the Technical University of Denmark and a few pals unveil an alternative. These guys have set up a bespoke search engine dedicated to the diagnosis of rare diseases called FindZebra, a name based on the common medical slang ["zebra"]for a rare disease. After comparing the results from this engine against the same searches on Google, they show that it is significantly better at returning relevant results.”
Is this supposed to be a surprise? Google does ads, not rare diseases. Ah well, the important thing is that doctors have a powerful new tool to help folks with diseases that stoutly defy accurate identification. How did the team from the Technical University of Denmark do it? The write-up goes on to say:
“The magic sauce in FindZebra is the index it uses to hunt for results. These guys have created this index by crawling a specially selected set of curated databases on rare diseases. . . . They then use the open source information retrieval tool Indri to search this index via a website with a conventional search engine interface. The result is FindZebra.”
Though the zebra engine is still an in-progress research project, the team has made it publically available at www.findzebra.com. Medical professionals can already use the innovation to help patients who might otherwise be doomed to years of painful frustration. Hooray, progress!
Cynthia Murrell, April 03, 2013
April 1, 2013
Due to a low rate of turnover and clickthroughs and the often unreliable world of ad exchange and technology that promises sky high viewership that they just can not deliver on, the rise of digital tricksters is at an all time high.
You’ve heard of a ghost writer, well, “Meet the Most Suspect Publishers On the Web: The Rise of Ghost Sites, Where Traffic is Huge but People are Few.”
“Increasingly, digital agencies and buy-side technology firms are seeing massive traffic and audience spikes from groups of Web publishers few people have ever heard of. These sites—billed as legitimate media properties—are built to look authentic on the surface, with generic, nonalarm-sounding content. But after digging deeper, it becomes evident that very little of these sites’ audiences are real people. Yet big name advertisers are spending millions trying to reach engaged users on these properties.”
That is right, companies like DigiMogul and Alphabird are getting advertisers to pay to leave an impression on a viewer that may or may not exist. The problem with this is you get pretty lousy search results due to the lack of actual humans hitting and working on the site. But with bots driving up traffic, those big names like BMW, Pillsbury, and JetBlue are clamoring to throw their money at the company in an effort to reach “consumers.”
Sounds a little backward to us.
Leslie Radcliff, April 3, 2013
April 1, 2013
Could the library be a gold mind just waiting to be tapped for its financial resources? The Examiner article “Soutron and EBSCO Enter Partnership Agreement” talks about the technology partnership that Soutron Global and EBSCO forged. With this new partnership Soutron Global will begin to integrate EBSCO Discovery Services with Soutron’s Library and Knowledge Management system. This collaboration will provide clients with a single integrated search environment that they can use for research and information resources. Tony Saadat, President and CEO of Soutron Global made the following statement.
“This partnership means that libraries, knowledge management centers, and information resource portals can ensure optimal access to knowledge assets, physical resources, and digital resources, thus ensuring optimal exploitation of resources.”
EBSCO Publishing is the company behind EBSCOhost, which is a fee-based online research service. A variety of libraries including educational, medical and public use EBSCO services. EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS) provides better indexing and full-text searching than any other discovery service. Graham Beastall, Managing Director, UK hade the following to say regarding the collaboration.
“Soutron is very excited to be working with EBSCO on what we regard as a key initiative to develop access to digital and physical resources in an organization. It will allow us to offer customers using Soutron additional opportunities to maximize use of their collection through EDS single search indexing technologies. Our goal is to make life easier for end users and for library managers.”
Never really thought of library catalogs as a way to financial security but could they be the next technology gold mind. Looking at the big picture I think the answer is no. Most libraries already work on a limited budget and it’s unlikely that they will suddenly get additional funds. With their proven technology EBSCO should focus on acquiring library cataloging and services companies for an extra boost. “Might as well be all or nothing.”
April Holmes, April 01, 2013
March 29, 2013
The photo below shows the goodies I got for giving my talk at Cebit in March 2013. I was hoping for a fat honorarium, expenses, and a dinner. I got a blue bag, a pen, a notepad, a 3.72 gigabyte thumb drive, and numerous long walks. The questionable hotel in which I stayed had no shuttle. Hitchhiking looked quite dangerous. Taxis were as rare as an educated person in Harrod’s Creek, and I was in the same city as Leibnitz Universität. Despite my precarious health, I hoofed it to the venue which was eerily deserted. I think only 40 percent of the available space was used by Cebit this year. The hall in which I found myself reminded me of an abandoned subway stop in Manhattan with fewer signs.
The PPromise goodies. Stuffed in my bag were hard copies of various PPromise documents. The most bulky of these in terms of paper were also on the 3.73 Gb thumb drive. Redundancy is a virtue I think.
Finally on March 23, 2013, I got around to snapping the photo of the freebies from the PPromise session and reading a monograph with this moniker:
Promise Participative Research Laboratory for Multimedia and Multilingual Information Systems Evaluation. FP7 ICT 20094.3, Intelligent Information Management. Deliverable 2.3 Best Practices Report.
The acronym should be “PPromise,” not “Promise.” The double “P” makes searching for the group’s information much easier in my opinion.
If one takes the first letter of “Promise Participative Research Laboratory for Multimedia and Multilingual Information Systems Evaluation” one gets PPromise. I suppose the single “P” was an editorial decision. I personally like “PP” but I live in a rural backwater where my neighbors shoot squirrels with automatic weapons and some folks manufacture and drink moonshine. Some people in other places shoot knowledge blanks and talk about moonshine. That’s what makes search experts and their analyses so darned interesting.
To point out the vagaries of information retrieval, my search to a publicly accessible version of the PPromise document returned a somewhat surprising result.
A couple more queries did the trick. You can get a copy of the document without the blue bag, the pen, the notepad, the 3.72 gigabyte thumb drive, and the long walk at http://www.promise-noe.eu/documents/10156/086010bb-0d3f-46ef-946f-f0bbeef305e8.
So what’s in the Best Practices Report? Straightaway you might not know that the focus of the whole PPromise project is search and retrieval. Indexing, anyone?
Let me explain what PPromise is or was, dive into the best practices report, and then wrap up with some observations about governments in general and enterprise search in particular.