Back from ISSS Workshop

My apologies for the sparsity of posts lately; it’s been a busy week!

I just came back from the Information Seeking Support Systems Workshop, which was sponsored by the National Science Foundation and hosted at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. An excerpt from the workshop home page nicely summarizes its purpose:

The general goal of the workshop will be to coalesce a research agenda that stimulates progress toward better systems that support information seeking. More specifically, the workshop will aim to identify the most promising research directions for three aspects of information seeking: theory, development, and evaluation.

We are still working on writing up a report that summarizes the workshop’s findings, so I don’t want to steal its thunder. But what I can say is that participants shared a common goal of identifying driving problems and solution frameworks that would rally information seeking researchers much the way that TREC has rallied the information retrieval community.

One of the assignments we received at the workshop was to pick a problem we would “go to the mat” for. I’d like to share mine here to get some early feedback:

We need to raise the status of evaluation procedures where recall trumps precision as a success metric. Specifically, we need to consider scenarios where the information being sought is existential in nature, i.e., the information seeker wants to know if an information object exists. In such cases, the measures should combine correctness of the outcome, user confidence in the outcome, and efficiency.

I’ll let folks know as more information is released from the workshop.

By Daniel Tunkelang

High-Class Consultant.