Google Defends Its Appliance, Part 2

Ron Miller at Fierce Content Management has published an interview with Google Search Appliance Nitin Mangtani to “ask some questions of [his] own about [Mangtani’s] reason for publishing the Forbes piece and his rebuttal to Google Search Appliance critics.” I’m still not convinced by Mangtani’s relevance-centric pitch, but I’ll let you read it and draw your own conclusions. I’ve reached out to Ron Miller and look forward to talking with him about a more HCIR-centric vision of enterprise search.

By Daniel Tunkelang

High-Class Consultant.

2 replies on “Google Defends Its Appliance, Part 2”

What specifically do you not agree with, about the relevance-centric pitch? Would you argue for a non-relevance-centric approach? Or are you thinking along some other line?


Fundamentally, I don’t believe that search engines can your mind or should be trying to. The extrapolation of an information need from a 2-word query is beyond AI-hard; it is ESP-hard.

I concede that a relevance-centric approach has succeeded in web search. But web search benefits from at least three factors: people mostly have easily met information needs; the social construction of the web makes it possible to assign meaningful relevance priors to documents; and sites themselves pick up where Google leaves off.

None of this holds for the enterprise. In the enterprise, the information needs are often more complex and subjective. Meanwhile, there is less objective basis for the relevance prior of a document.

Even Google acknowledges this to some extent, as the indicate with their tiptoeing into exploratory search interfaces. But fundamentally they seem to believe that it almost entirely comes down to the ranking algorithm.

I do argue for another approach. Check out my talk!


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