Category Archives: research

Research and Development, including academic research.

Advertising & Awareness with Sponsored Search: an exploratory study examining the effectiveness of Google AdWords at the local and global level

I will be giving a research talk (added recently, thus not on the conference Web page yet) titled: Advertising & Awareness with Sponsored Search:  an exploratory study examining the effectiveness of Google AdWords at the local and global level on October 28 at the American Society of Information Science & Technology (ASIS&T) 2008 Annual Meeting (AM08) in Columbus, Ohio.

This is the abstract for the talk:

This talk reviews an exploratory study of sponsored search advertising for a major US university’s academic department. The ad campaign used Google’s AdWord service with the goal of increasing awareness – not eCommerce – as part of the search process.  A behavioral model of information seeking is suggested that could be applied for selecting appropriate types of online advertising for awareness and other advertising goals. Insights into the study methodology will also be discussed including the use of increased integration with server logs, targeted site query terms and alternative awareness strategies. 

The talk is part of the panel AM08 2008 – The Google Online Marketing Challenge: A Multi-disciplinary Global Teaching and Learning Initiative Using Sponsored Search with Bernard Jansen, Mark A. Rosso, Dan Russell, Brian Detlor and Don Turnbull.

This is a summary of the panel:

Sponsored search is an innovative information searching paradigm. This panel will discuss a vehicle to explore this unique medium as an educational opportunity for students and professors. From February to May 2008, Google will run its first ever student competition in sponsored search, The Google Online Marketing Challenge Similar to other Google initiatives, the extent seems huge. Based on pre-registrations, more than two hundred professors and nearly nine thousand students from approximately 50 countries will compete. This may be the largest, worldwide educational course ever done. It is certainly on a large scale.

The Google Online Marketing Challenge is a real-life, problem-based, and multidisciplinary educational endeavor of the kind that many educators say is needed to relate teaching to outside the classroom. However, such endeavors are not without risks. The session should appeal to professors that competed in the 2008 Challenge, any professors considering the 2009 Challenge, as well as other educators who might consider the inclusion of Google AdWords as a pedagogical tool in their curricula. The panel will also be of great interest to those information professionals and educators as a possible model for use in other domains besides sponsored search.

Knowledge Management Systems

This Fall 2008 semester at the University of Texas, I’m teaching a course on: Knowledge Management Systems

This course surveys Knowledge Management systems that enable the access and coordination of knowledge assets. Technologies reviewed will include intranets, groupware, weblogs, instant messaging, content management systems and email in both individual and organizational contexts. Students will use these KM technologies, review case studies, research methods of knowledge organization and analyze and design KM processes and systems.

The course is chock full of fun topics including:

Of course, we have a class blog too: Knowledge Management Systems @UTexas

Semantic Web Technologies

This Fall 2008 semester at the University of Texas, I’m teaching a course on: Semantic Web Technologies

This course approaches understanding Semantic Web technologies from three perspectives:

  • Top-down, theoretical approaches to organizing semantic information including ontologies, taxonomies, knowledge representation and software agents.
  • Bottom-up approaches, sometimes called “emergent semantics” or “the lower case ‘S’ semantic web”, for understanding and creating networked information including XML-based solutions including RDF, XPath and RSS. Also included are smaller, informal systems for organizing Web information including tagging (social bookmarking), microformats and other specific markup and distribution systems.
  • Application approaches focusing on Web Services or “Web 2.0” functionality including distributed (client and server) application design, syndication, Application Programming Interfaces, remote databases and “mash-ups”.

Of course, we have a class blog too: Semantic Web Technologies Blog.

Call for Papers – Special Issue of the Journal of Web Engineering

Along with my colleagues and co-guest editors Jim Jansen, Kirstie Hawkey, Melanie Kellar, and Andy Edmonds, I am happy to announce a call for paper submissions for a Special Issue of the Journal of Web Engineering focusing on Logging Traces of Web Activity.

People are now using the World Wide Web (Web) to seek, gather, and share information in increasingly complex ways. In order to develop the next generation of Web information systems, we must have an understanding of people’s goals, their context, and their situational aspects. These aspects are difficult, if not impossible, to investigate in laboratory settings. Therefore, researchers must turn to naturalistic studies involving large number of users who may be separated geographically. In these settings, many researchers require logs of user behaviour on the Web to 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. Unfortunately, current tools and processes do not support consistent and detailed studies using logs of user behaviour. As such, there is a duplication of effort, which hampers progress in the field.

This special issue is inspired by the Logging Traces of Web Activity: The Mechanics of Data Collection workshop at the WWW 2006 Conference this May in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Relevant research themes include, but are not limited to:

  • Methodologies for data collection (client-side, server-side, proxy-based)
  • Collection of browser data (e.g. events, bookmarks, history, and caches)
  • Collection of data from users across different browsers
  • AJAX-compatible logging systems
  • Using mixed data sources for data validation
  • Cleaning Web data
  • Web data warehousing
  • Using Web data for proactive user functionality
  • Methods for matching user behaviour to task models
  • Qualitative annotation of Web data


Submissions should be full length articles. All submissions will be peer reviewed and should describe original research that is not under consideration in any other forum. Please follow the formatting guidelines of the journal. Submissions should be emailed to in PDF format. All questions regarding submissions should be directed to Melanie Kellar (

Important Dates

Submission Deadline: January 8, 2007
Reviews Due: February 8, 2007
Notification to Authors: February 19, 2007
Final Papers Due: March 19, 2007

Seattle & Portland this week

I am in Seattle this week for the Seattle Innovation Symposium, where academics and industry are working together to understand and distribute the innovation. I will also be talking with some of the smart people at Microsoft about the OpenChoice project: a platform for Web Content Classification & Filtering that I’m working on with many others at UT.

I have already been in town a day and half. I’ve been enjoying the nice weather (no, that’s not a Seattle rain joke) and the downtown area. Yesterday I hit Dilettante Chocolates and walked down to the Pike Place Market for some fresh crab cocktail and hot french bread (a tasty sandwich indeed) at the waterfront park. Then a trip over to the Space Needle and the Experience Music Project (museum) and ran smack dab into a Star Trek convention (no, that’s not a Seattle geek joke). Then somehow I ended up at REI, which seems inevitable here in town (yes, that is a Seattle treehugger joke).

Later in the week, I’m driving down to Portland and will plan on at least one Lewis & Clark related stop, but am open to any road trip recommendations or must-sees in Portland. (I’ve never been to Oregon and I’m happy to correct that error. Also, that’s one more state I can say I’ve been to.)

Logging Traces of Web Activity workshop at WWW2006

Yesterday we had a great workshop about Logging Traces of Web Activity: The Mechanics of Data Collection at the WWW 2006 Conference.

All of the papers, presentations and statements of interest provided a number of insight into different methods for collecting data about Web use including using both server and client based tools including the issues faced when trying to decide what to log about users’ interactions and what the log formats should look like too. A number of revealing studies also reviewed some current views of how Web users do interact with the Web as well as a number of applications, plug-ins and scripting methods for getting data, distributing it and what users’ perceptions of their data might mean to them.

We were just one of the many excellent workshops at WWW2006.

The entire day went well thanks to my excellent co-organizers for the panel: Kirstie Hawkey, Melanie Kellar, and Andy Edmonds.

I'll be in Scotland

in the next few weeks, primarily to attend the 15th International World Wide Web Conference where I’m co-chairing a workshop on Logging Traces of Web Activity: The Mechanics of Data Collection with Melanie Kellar, Kirstie Hawkey and Andy Edmonds. If you won’t be attending, you can check out the excellent program schedule, including links to the submissions that will be presented at the workshop.

Fortunately, before the conference I will be doing some touring throughout Scotland including Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. If you have some recommendations, on “must see” experiences, I’m happy to hear about it. I’ve already added a few events to my trip from excellent suggestions including the Isle of Skye and a whisky distillery or two. Feel free to comment on this post or send me an email.

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).