Welcome back! What a busy period this has been since our winter issue had come out, and what a lot of activities. Most of the editorial team has just returned from an excellent ECIR 2012 in Barcelona and you can read more about the conference in this issue (a small challenge: spot the editors in the photos in this issue of Informer). Just a quick subjective two-word summary of the conference’s main theme: social networks.
But there were plenty of other events and activities, including WSDM 2012 in Seattle and WWW 2012 in Lyon. The ICTIR 2013 bids had to be submitted by the end of March and we should be able to report in our summer issue where the conference will be held next year. Apart from conferences with a strong academic focus there are many events going on all around us (in particular if you live in a place like London). Just this week saw the Text Analytics Summit and it was a great opportunity to catch up with what is going on in industry, and the main conclusion of talking to conference delegates over a drink? Well, there are plenty of niche areas undiscovered where information retrieval and natural language engineering may have a huge impact but the methods used so far seem rather basic or hard-coded (or both) if you look at them through academic glasses. However, taking some sophisticated method from an academic laboratory into the real world involves more than demonstrating a significant improvement of nDCG@10 over the ClueWeb09 collection. For a start you need to think about the user, and why not start by learning from the experts in this very issue of Informer? Tyler and Tony continue their quest for the perfect user experience, be it for faceted search or mobile search, and they share their findings with you in this issue.
Back to conferences. In this issue we will reflect on both last year’s ECIR 2011 from the organisers’ point of view as well as on this year’s conference and Industry Day from a visitor’s perspective. As always, do send us your comments and let us know if you have attended an interesting conference or meetup recently that you would want to write about in Informer. If you think it’s interesting, there will be dozens of readers who will think the same.