Entries from April 2008

Social Navigation

April 27th, 2008 · 6 Comments · General

There has bit a lot of recent buzz about social navigation, including some debate about what the phrase means. I dug into the archives and found a paper from the CHI ’94 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems entitled “Running Out of Space: Models of Information Navigation”. In it, Paul Dourish and Matthew Chalmers [...]

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Happy Rota Day!

April 26th, 2008 · Comments Off · General

Since this is a personal blog, I’d like to go a bit off-topic and take recognize my late mentor Gian-Carlo Rota, whose birthday is today. While I and countless others recall Gian-Carlo most fondly as a mentor and teacher, his crowning achievement was to make combinatorics a respectable branch of modern mathematics. Indeed, combinatorics and [...]

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Workshop on Ranked XML Querying

April 24th, 2008 · Comments Off · Uncategorized

Thanks to an excellent blog written by Panos Ipeirotis at the NYU Stern School, I learned about a workshop held last month in Dagstuhl on ranked XML querying. Most of the presentations are available online, including one entitled DB & IR from a DB Viewpoint by Gerhard Weikum at the Max Planck Institut für Informatik. [...]

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Database Usability

April 24th, 2008 · Comments Off · General

Just as I was digesting Jeff Naughton’s presentation at DB/IR day, a colleague at Endeca emailed me the keynote that H. V. Jagadish (University of Michigan) presented at SIGMOD ’07 on making database systems usable. He enumerates the familiar pain points of today’s database systems: confusing schemas, too many choices to make, unexpected–and unexplained–system behavior, [...]

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The Efficiency of Social Tagging

April 23rd, 2008 · 3 Comments · General

Credit to Kevin Duh by way of the natural language processing blog for highlighting recent work from PARC on understanding the efficiency of social tagging systems using information theory. The authors apply information theory to establish a framework for measuring the efficiency social tagging systems, and then empirically observe that the efficiency of tagging on [...]

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Accessibility in Information Retrieval

April 22nd, 2008 · 3 Comments · General

The other day, I was talking with Leif Azzopardi at the University of Glasgow about accessibility in information retrieval. Accessibility is a concept borrowed from land use and transportation planning: it measures the cost that people are willing to incur to reach opportunities (e.g., shopping, restaurants), weighted by the desirability of those opportunities. What does [...]

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North East DB / IR Day

April 20th, 2008 · 1 Comment · General

Last Friday, I had the privilege to attend the Spring 2008 North East DB/IR Day, hosted by Columbia University: The North East DB/IR Day brings together database and information retrieval researchers and students from both academic and research institutions in the Northeastern United States. The DB/IR Day is a semi-annual workshop that features an exciting [...]

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The Search for Meaning

April 17th, 2008 · 9 Comments · General

By a fortuitous coincidence, I had the opportunity to see two consecutive presentations from search engine companies banking on natural language processing (NLP) to power the next generation of search. The first was from Ron Kaplan, Chief Technology and Science Officer of Powerset, who presented at Columbia University. The second was from Christian Hempelmann, Chief [...]

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Ellen Voorhees defends Cranfield

April 17th, 2008 · 3 Comments · General

I was extremely flattered to receive an email from Ellen Voorhees responding to my post about Nick Belkin’s keynote. Then I was a little bit scared, since she is a strong advocate of the Cranfield tradition, and I braced myself for her rebuttal. She pointed me to a talk she gave at the First International [...]

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Privacy and Information Theory

April 15th, 2008 · 4 Comments · General

Privacy is a evergreen topic in technology discussions, and increasingly finds its way into the mainstream (cf. AOL, NSA, Facebook). My impression is that most people feel that companies and government agencies are amassing their “private” data to some nefarious end. Let’s forget about technology for a moment and subject the notion of privacy to [...]

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