Wednesday, April 28

Search is Dead! Long Live Search Panel at WWW 2010

Continuing the WWW 2010 coverage, this after there was a panel, Search is Dead! Long Live Search. You can see a poor quality video stream of the panel. The following are the notes from my labmate, Michael. You can also see the discussion on Twitter, #searchisdead.

    Search is dead! Long Live Search.

    • Search for 10 blue links is already dead

    • A failure case is if a user sees just the 10 blue links

    • There is much more diverse data sources and presentations than links to web pages

    • Intense competition to get the tail queries right
      • You miss everyone if you miss the tail
      • It doesn’t take much to get into the tail – 1 or 2 more keywords

    • Enormous need to resurface implicit structured information for keyword queries

    • How to satisfy the tail?
      • 10 blue links are not enough
      • Show structured data not
        just for popular queries, but for tail queries as well: maps for “historical houses in Raleigh”
      • UI challenge

    • Change in how people produce content
      • From newswire docs to webdocs to blogs to Twitter

    • Searches that don’t work
      • Book Search
      • Wikipedia
      • Images
      • Complex queries

    • Capturing user behavior activity
      • Reformulations given by users are more likely to be clicked than automatically generated ones.
      • Better tools for capturing
        how users interact with the results

    • Facets
      • Already are used in some vertical domains by Bing
      • Automatically extracting facets from raw text
        • Caveat: are they meaningful?
      • Are users getting used to facets? The “jury is still out”
      • Can become exponentially complex

    • Mobile Search
      • Voice search is a big change
        • Penalty for longer queries go down – natural language processing will become more important
        • Surprising finding – people tend to type (not speak) longer queries on mobile
          • Recognizing long stateless speech utterances is hard
      • Lots of apps
        • Tail queries can be better served by niche apps
        • How to integrate results between apps?

      • Geo-information
        • Comes for free in phones and has to be used by a successful search engine

    • Social Search
      • We already do social search by using click data
      • Can we do better using social networks?
      • Are applications like Aardvark effective?


  1. Thanks to you and Michael for posting the notes! Would love to know what they meant by including Wikipedia in searches that don't work.

  2. Michael B.9:12 AM EDT

    Daniel, I think Wikipedia was given as an example of a vertical where a search doesn't work very well --- that is if you search ONLY the Wikipedia and wiki-like resources, vs. general search that can surface Wikipedia results.

  3. Do you know what is meant by "Enormous need to resurface implicit structured information for keyword queries"?

  4. Marti Hearst9:30 PM EDT

    Actually, that was me who mentioned some kinds of content that search doesn't work well on today (books, images, etc). I was saying (or meant to say) that search over wikis isn't working well; there have been good augmentations to wikipedia search.