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.

Tuesday, August 10

Quick Links of the Day: Blekko, Silicon Valley History, and I hate your paper, and P!=NP

  • Blekko - Daniel has a Blekko preview from the beta. See also Michael Arrington's post on SE Land. From Daniel's post:
    Rather, they are a way for users to “spin” their search results using a variety of filters. For example, [climate /liberal] and [climate /conservative] return very different results, because they are restricted to different sets of sites... In addition to providing a set of curated slashtags, Blekko allows users to define their own slashtags by specifying the sets of sites to be included.
    This is a very primitive means of creating mini vertical search engines. My first instinct is that slashtags remind me of Rollyo where you can "roll your own" by restricting search to a group of websites.

  • I Hate Your Paper - an article by New Scientist that looks look at how the reviewing process is broken and some ways that journals are exploring possible reforms. (thank Hany)

  • A historical perspective on the evolution of Silicon Valley by Russell Jurney

  • An in case you've been living under a rock, the P != NP proof attempt by HP labs, see #pnp.