2011 May | Federated Search BlogFederated Search

Archive for May, 2011

20
May

Amusing anecdote

Author: Sol

Miles Kehoe at New Idea Engineering’s Enterprise Search Blog tells an entertaining anecdote.

The folks from Booz & Company, a spinoff from Booz Allen Hamilton, did a presentation on their experience comparing two well respected mainstream search products. They report that, at one point, one of the presenters was looking for a woman she knew named Sarah – but she was having trouble remembering Sarah’s last name. The presenter told of searching one of the engines under evaluation and finding that most of the top 60 people returned from the search were… men. None were named ‘Sue’; and apparently none were named Sarah either. The other engine returned records for a number of women named Sarah; and, as it turns out, for a few men as well.

After some frustration, they finally got to the root of the problem. It turns out that all of the Booz & Company employees have their resumes indexed as part of their profiles. Would you like to guess the name of the person who authored the original resume template? Yep – Sarah.

This is a great example of “garbage in, garbage out!” Meta data is only as good as the humans who curate it (or the machines who try to guess at it.) Thanks for the Friday chuckle, Miles!

5
May

I’ve always thought of personalization as a good thing. If Google knows something about me then it can provide results that I’ll find more relevant, right?

Watch this TED talk by Eli Pariser and, like me, you might start having second thoughts.

Pariser is former executive director of MoveOn and is now a senior fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. His book The Filter Bubble is set for release May 12, 2011. In it, he asks how modern search tools — the filter by which many of see the wider world — are getting better and better and screening the wider world from us, by returning only the search results it “thinks” we want to see.

Here’s the very thought-provoking first paragraph of the talk:

Mark Zuckerberg, a journalist was asking him a question about the news feed. And the journalist was asking him, “Why is this so important?” And Zuckerberg said, “A squirrel dying in your front yard may be more relevant to your interests right now than people dying in Africa.” And I want to talk about what a Web based on that idea of relevance might look like.

Read the rest of this entry »