Welcome and Happy New Year! “We had a great 2016. 2017 will prove to be even better” as an anonymous letter writer assures me … although he/she/it also assures me that the European Union is doomed and that I should respect the democratic will of the British people. What better way to start the year than with a few friendly words?
What do we have on offer this time? Several new faces for a start. One of them is José Alberto Esquivel Patiño who attended Search Solutions 2016 in November and he shares his reflections with us, very different to our usual reviews and a very interesting read.
Actually, Search Solutions appears to be getting bigger and bigger. This time we had the tutorials followed by the main event and another co-located one-day workshop on information access system evaluation in practice (organised by Jussi Karlgren and Evangelos Kanoulas). I am sure we will read more about that workshop sometime soon in SIGIR Forum. Another novelty at Search Solutions this time was the introduction of the BCS IRSG Search Industry Awards, and the 2016 winners are … ContextFlow in the category Most Promising Start-up, Lexis Nexis for their work on search term maps as Best Search Project, and Frederic Fol Leymarie for Best Presentation at Search Solutions. It was not just the presentation but also the scope of the work Frederic presented as a co-founder of DynAikon, a company that specialises in shape-based search, that fascinated the audience. Take for example the image in this post. How would you search for it … unless you have shape-based search? All meta data I could find for this is “Papa, papa, look: Donald Trump behind bars” provided by the (4-year-old) artist. Anyway, congratulations to all the winners!
Tony’s feature article this time looks at the evaluation of chatbots. Well, who says A (information retrieval) must say B (evaluation) or at least A/B. Tony explores the different angles that need to be evaluated in a system that combines such a mix of different fields like IR, AI, NLP, HCI/UX (enough acronyms?) This article emerged from initial discussions at the evaluation workshop just mentioned. In any case, there are plenty of ideas for future work as chatbots are unlikely to go away anytime soon …
Our book editor Frank reports how he attended a conference in Japan without leaving his Glasgow office. How puzzling! Well, let’s hear about his experience of setting up satellite events co-organised remotely with major international conferences which allow more participants to join in. This one was the NTCIR Lifelog track and from what I read we might see more of this in future years.
Let’s stick with events for now. ECIR 2017 in Aberdeen is coming up and what would be ECIR without Industry Day? Want to attend? Please do, just register! Want to present? Well, why not? Send us your idea as we have published a lightweight Call for Proposals. Speaking of events, here is one that I have just come across: the Fake News Challenge. Great idea? Sounds like it.
Another new face: Stephane Goldstein is looking into the interplay of information retrieval and information literacy and asks whether they share a common cause. Read on and you will find out.
Oh, wait, events! Whether you want to attend information retrieval events in person or in the comfort of your Glasgow office, we have the right resource for you. Andy compiled yet again a comprensive list of events for your diary, and the first one in the list is … Search Solutions 2017! Yes, we do start planning well ahead of time, and it is a pleasure for us to do so — for you and the wider community. True fact!