Category Archives: research

Research and Development, including academic research.

An experiment in consensus tagging

Prentiss Riddle just blogged about his efforts to seed a canonical set of tags with the team at shadows .com for the upcoming South by SouthWest conference and festival.

I think this is a good set of tags, especially the huge list of band names and their tags even if I don’t know and never will know all but a few of the bands that are possible to see during the music part of SXSW. I suspect it is possible that if I actually did learn of the band via the tags, I’d be more likely to still remember them by their tag instead of their complete name. I wonder what that says about the primacy in learned vocabularies. What I do like is that many of the tags I clicked on already have more than a few links to the band’s own Web sites, fan sites and even some (hopefully legal) downloads. That seems to be a great way to bootstrap both getting people to use the offered tags and also to discover some new bands to go and see while they’re here in Austin.

In terms of (ha!) what I call “tag grammar” it is also interesting to debate the use of date information like “2006” or “06” on the end of the main sxsw conference tags as in sxsw2006 vs. sxsw . Thankfully, the year as part of a tag might not be supremely important as most tagging systems show links with the newest first, making it pretty easy to see all the tagged items from the current year first. (Note to all tagging system UI designers – how about some real time sorting options for tags lists and tag clouds? Sorting by date, type and kind could truly transform tagging from a backstop for retrieval to something more essential to the overall information seeking process.) The good thing to help achieve some consensus is that on most pages (within at least) you can see related tags or drill down into combinations of tags (a “narrow results” option).

Alexa's Public Crawler Database

What a great idea Alexa ( the Alexa Web Search Platform, computing and storage resources for rent to analyze large percentages of the entire Web. The opening of this to anyone with an analytics or business idea is certainly a Web 2.0-kind of thing. Outsource your data collection and hardware to analyze it.

Now why not a program for academic research access to the data stores?

WWW2006 Workshop – Logging Traces of Web Activity

I am one of the organizers for the WWW2006 Workshop – Logging Traces of Web Activity: The Mechanics of Data Collection at the WWW2006 Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland in May 2006.

We invite position papers for the WWW 2006 workshop “Logging Traces of Web Activity: The Mechanics of Data Collection”. Many WWW researchers require logs of user behaviour on the Web. Researchers study the interactions of web users, both with respect to general behaviour and in order to develop and evaluate new tools and techniques.

Traces of web activity are used for a wide variety of research and commercial purposes including user interface usability and evaluations of user behaviour and patterns on the web. Currently, there is a lack of available logging tools to assist researchers with data collection and it can be difficult to choose an appropriate technique. There are several tradeoffs associated with different methods of capturing log-based data. There are also challenges associated with processing, analyzing and utilizing the collected data.

This one day workshop will examine the trade-offs and challenges inherent to the different logging approaches and provide workshop attendees the opportunity to discuss both previous data collection experiences and upcoming challenges. The goal of this workshop is to establish a community of researchers and practitioners to contribute to a shared repository of logging knowledge and tools. The workshop will consist of a panel discussion, participant presentations, demonstrations of logging tools and prototypes, and a discussion of the next steps for the group. Participation is open to researchers, practitioners, and students in the field.

The deadline for workshop proposals is January 10, 2006. I hope to see you there.

KM Practices in Organizations Undergoing Fundamental Change

On November 2 I will be speaking with three colleagues:

about Knowledge Management Practices in Organizations Undergoing Fundamental Change at the American Society of Information Science & Technology’s Annual Meeting.

Here is the requisite blurb about the panel:

This session combines individual presentations with a group discussion. The focus of this session and the expertise of this panel bring together the information-related issues of organizational change, managing knowledge, enabling technology and the role of senior management. This session reflects the interests of SIG-MGT membership and aligns with the ASIST 2005 theme of “Bringing Research and Practice Together.”

Of course, there is a Wiki page too.

New Book: Theories of Information Behavior

I am remiss in mentioning that a new book, Theories of Information Behavior, I have written a chapter for is finally out.

From the blurb:

This unique book presents authoritative overviews of more than 70 conceptual frameworks for understanding how people seek, manage, share, and use information in different contexts. A practical and readable reference to both wellestablished and newly proposed theories of information behavior, the book includes contributions from 85 scholars from 10 countries. Each theory description covers origins, propositions, methodological implications, usage, links to related conceptual frameworks, and listings of authoritative primary and secondary references. The introductory chapters explain key concepts, theory, method connections, and the process of theory development.

Check out the Table of Contents (pdf file). (I’m the last chapter in the book, it’s funny that the chapters are organized alphabetically by the title of each chapter.) link to Theories of Information Behavior. American Society for Information Science & Technology Member Price is 20% off now.

SIGIR 2006 Call for Papers

The ACM Special Interest Group for Information Retrieval (SIGIR) has thier SIGIR 2006 Draft Call for Papers out already. The conference will be in Seattle next August.

SIGIR is one of the best academic conferences to keep up with what’s new and what’s possible for Web search and increasingly, in Desktop search and mobile device search. For 2006 I expect we will see more about vertical search and even blog search too as well as some new insights into user behavior for IR.

Call for Papers: WWW2006 Conference

New notice for participation at the 15th Annual World Wide Web conference in Edinburgh, Scotland (one of my favorite cities).

I will be a reviewer again this year in the Browsers and User Interface track, where there are usually a number of amazing systems and interfaces. Here’s some text describing the track:

The Browsers and User Interfaces track at WWW’2006 focuses on promoting novel research directions and providing a forum where researchers, theoreticians, and practitioners can introduce new approaches, paradigms, applications, share their knowledge and opinions about problems and solutions related to accessing and interacting with data , services, and other humans over the Web. We invite original papers describing both theoretical and experimental research including (but not limited to) the following topics:

  • Browsers and user experience on mobile devices
  • Browser interoperability
  • Novel client-side applications
  • Multimodal interfaces, including speech interaction
  • Information visualization on the Web
  • Multilingual Web content design
  • Novel browsing and navigation paradigms
  • Web interaction with the real world, including robotics and sensor networks
  • Adaptive Web displays and Web personalization
  • Ubiquitous web access, shared displays, and wearable computing
  • Web usability and user experience
  • Web accessibility
  • Web-based collaboration and collaborative Web use
  • Web-logs and online journalism

Hope to see you there.

Study of Yahoo and Google Indices

A fresh approach at some analysis of which search engine has a more comprehensize index: A Comparison of the Size of the Yahoo and Google Indices. It would be interesting to see this study at another order of magnitude, perhaps with MSN included. What I like best is that the study authors released the code for the tests. I seem to be finding that more academics are providing code to let others attempt to verify their study firsthand, build on the study to make relatable comparisons, and most importantly to prodive the opportunity for peer review of the code logic of what the study claims.