I spent Thursday at the Endeca Government Summit, where I had the privilege to chat face-to-face with some Noisy Channel readers. Mostly, I was there to learn more about the sorts of information seeking problems people are facing in the public sector in general, and in the intelligence agencies in particular.
While I can’t go into much detail, the key concern was exploration of information availability. This problem is the antithesis of known-item search: rather than you are trying to retrieve information you know exist (and which you know how to specify), you are trying to determine if there is information available that would help you with a particular task.
Despite being lost in a sea of TLAs, I came away with a deepened appreciation of both the problems the intelligence agencies are trying to address and the relevance of exploratory search approaches to those problems.