Tuesday, July 26

SIGIR 2011 Keynote Talk: Qi Lu and The Future of the Web & Search

Qi Lu, the president of Microsoft's Online Services Division gave the first keynote address at SIGIR 2011 happening this week in Beijing. He laid out Microsoft's vision for the future.

I am in San Francisco at Twitter, but luckily my friend and fellow UMass grad student Michael Bendersky is taking notes (follow him on @bemikelive). Also, be sure to check out his workshop on Query Representation and Understanding.

Future of the Web & Search
  • Agenda
    - Perspective of the web/IT industry
    - Future of search
    - Role of IR
    - Challenges
    - Opportunity

  • The heritage: web of documents
    The future:
    - Social web - Facebook profiles, like buttons
    - Geospatial web: Mobile devices
    - Temporal web: Collection of information over time, real-time microblogging
    - Application web: Fundamental design of the browser doesn’t support new application models

  • IT industry of the future
    - Devices + cloud services
    - Changing the user intent capturing from rigid keyboard/mouse/keywords combination to more natural modalities
    • Understanding the natural language
    • Voice recognition
    - On mobile devices
    - In living room products
    • Body gestures - Microsoft Kinect
    • Image/Audio/Video capturing

  • Vision: of the future of search
    o Empower people with knowledge
    o Re-organize the web for search to unlock the full potential of the web
    • Better discovery
    • More informed decisions
    • Easier task completions

  • Role of IR
    o Understanding user intent
    o Modeling web of the world
    • People/places/things
    • Relations
    o Task completion & decision making
    o Incentive engineering for making people do more things on the web

  • Challenges
    o Measurement, evaluation & self-correction
    • Some things are inherently hard to evaluation: objectiveness, design, opinions
    • Search results have profound influence on the way people perceive the world
    • It is important that they have no inherent bias or skew

    o Privacy

    o Lack of
    • Tools & understanding in existing disciplines
    • Training & development if cross-disciplinary talent

    o Barriers for academia research
    • Access to data
    • Computing infrastructure
    • Funding
    • Not just based on company agenda
    • Funding projects based on pure creativity

  • Opportunities
    • Opportunities for key breakthroughs in the areas of
    • Serendipitous discovery (e.g. Hunch.com)
    • Information theory for the age of the web and social networks
    • Science of big data

    • Broadening collaborations
    • Research
    • Development (API/tools)
    • Investment (Training & Development)

    • Vibrant community
Follow #sigir2011 for more news, although given the censorship in China, the results are very sparse.