Wednesday, August 11

Yahoo! Labs Interview: Towards Web Object Search

The Yahoo! Search blog has an interview with Dr. Ben Shahshahani of Y! labs on search. The questions in the interview cover real-time search, the use of social data, and object retrieval.

The interview begins with an introduction that search is moving beyond 10 links to a federated model that that blends objects from different verticals, also known as "Universal Search" by Google. He then continues about the increasing role that structured data is playing on the web. He says,
Now, the other thing that has been happening is an integration of structured data and unstructured data, so structured meaning that there are particular attributes to different entities. We have a pretty active technology and science effort in trying to understand the main object, attributes, and relationships – not just the text on a web page...
Later, he continues the thread when it comes to answering specific user intents,
Once a query comes in, the question is: “what is the intent” or “what are the common intents of the users submitting this query?” To answer that question, we use a variety of ways to understand the query – a lot of the queries are about objects... Objects are things in the real-world. They can be events, a location, a person or a product. Our active effort in understanding attributes and their relationships helps us find out the things you can do with those objects.
The last quote reminded me of the great presentation given by Eugene Agichtein at the Query Representation and Understanding workshop at SIGIR, Inferring User Intent from Interactions with the Search Results. As I recall, Eugene used search logs gathered from toolbar data to analyze different object attributes and tasks associated with different types of objects from the log. However, I don't recall all the details and the slides are not online.

Disclosure: I am an intern at Y! this summer working on object retrieval, so I'm a bit biased.

2 comments:

  1. The interview begins with an introduction that search is moving beyond 10 links to a federated model that that blends objects from different verticals, also known as "Universal Search" by Google.

    I'm sorry, but I don't see a difference between these two things. From an interaction, exploratory search perspective, there is no difference between 10 blue links and 10 blue objects. My objection here is the linear, static nature of the results set. Not whether or not the backend search engine is federated.

    So I would say that this work is NOT moving beyond 10 blue links, not in the sense that HCIR folks mean it.

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  2. Eugene's slides may not be online, but the paper is linked from http://ir.mathcs.emory.edu/intent/

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