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On the dangers of stochastic parrots: Can language models be too big?

There are few better ways of spending an hour than doing so listening to Professor Emily Bender, University of Waashington, taking about language models in a virtual presentation hosted by the Alan Turing Institute on 8 July 2021. The main topics in this excellent lecture (content, presentation and discussion) were Are ever larger language models […]

IRSG web site upgrade

Work is now in progress with the migration of the IRSG web site into the new BCS Specialist Group web site style. For rather too long we have been somewhat out of step with the other Specialist Groups. We are anticipating that the new site will be launched towards the end of August. We have […]

Informer redesign plans

We are also planning to change the template of Informer, which apparently dates from 2008. However, this change will almost certainly not take place until the Winter issue in early 2022. The main reason for this is that the Editor is also acting as the Web Migration Manager and as the Conference Convenor for the […]

And finally…..the pleasures and pain of inverting files

The topic of search index development came floating across my mind when reading the work of the IR Anthology team on identifying over 53,000 research papers. To take advantage of the outcomes of this research by a commercial search software company would almost always require its customers to re-index their document collection (which might be […]

In this issue

It has taken me a couple of years to realise that I have never actually written an editorial because when I took over from Udo Kruschwitz I decided to give you a summary of the contents of the issue. So the section has been renamed as ‘In this issue’ and you have no idea how […]

ECIR 2022 / ECIR 2023

The 44th European Conference on Information Retrieval will take place from 10-14 April 2022 in Stavanger, Norway. The web site is now up, highlighting that this will be the most northerly ECIR ever. If you are planning your 2023 vacation then you may like to know that ECIR 2023 will returning to Dublin, the venue […]

Fairness and Bias in Information Retrieval Glasgow 23 March 2021

2020 was a notable year in information retrieval research and development. First there was the realization that AI applications were going to need a level of transparency that would reassure customers that they were supporting, not controlling, the search process. Second there was the realization that the search community had a responsibility to think beyond […]

ECIR 2021 Conference Supplement

ECIR 2021 was an outstanding event from every perspective. In this first-ever Supplement you will find An overview of the event Some notes on the keynote papers (including the Karen Spark Jones lecture) with links to the videos of the presentations A list of the Award Winners A report on an important panel session on […]

ECIR 2021 Conference overview

Raffaele Perego and Fabrizio Sebastiani are in the process of writing a full report on the conference for SIGIR Forum, and have kindly provided a short reflection for Informer that illustrates the scale, breadth and success of the event, with some notes on the technology platforms.

ECIR 2021 Keynote presentations

There were three keynote presentations at ECIR 2021, carefully scheduled for the end of the day for the benefit of participants in North and South America and early risers in the Asia-Pacific region. I’m not going to try to summarise the talks in any depth but hopefully I will encourage you to sit down with […]

Karen Spark Jones Award 2020 and Lecture

The British Computer Society Information Retrieval Specialist Group (BCS IRSG) in conjunction with the BCS created an award in 2008 to commemorate the achievements of Karen Spärck Jones. Karen was Professor Emerita of Computers and Information at the University of Cambridge and one of the most remarkable and influential women in computer science.

ECIR 2021 Awards

A list of the Award winners is given below

ECIR 2021 – Discussion Panel on Open Access

On 31 March 2021, the Wednesday morning of ECIR 2021, the conference participants joined with seven panellists in a discussion on Open Access and Information Retrieval (IR), or more accurately, on the lack of open access publishing in IR. Discussion topics included the experience of researchers with open access in Africa; business models for open […]

Smile! You're on Camera.

Another BIR Please — Report of the 11th International Workshop on Bibliometric-enhanced Information Retrieval

The 11th Bibliometric-enhanced Information Retrieval Workshop (BIR 2021) was held online on April 1st, 2021, at ECIR 2021 as virtual event only for the 2nd time due to the pandemic situation. As before, the aim of the interdisciplinary BIR workshop series is to bring together researchers from different communities, especially scientometrics/bibliometrics and information retrieval. In […]

ECIR 2021 – Cooking Class with Chef Paolo Monti

What can a conference organiser offer to virtual participants as a social programme? The brilliant solution  from the ECIR team was  to offer two cookery classes from the most renowned chef in Lucca. You can watch the demonstrations and download the recipes from the web site.

The BIRDS were flying again – Bridging Gaps at CHIIR 2021

Can Data Science, Information Science, Information Retrieval and Human-Computer Interaction get together and learn from each other? Bringing together these different communities is the aim of the BIRDS workshop. While in Information Retrieval we learnt over the last decades how to meld user- and system-oriented approaches, one of the questions is how we can make […]

Thinking about information behaviour – Professor Tom Wilson

Each year the UK Electronic Information Group, a special interest group of CILIP, makes the Farradane Award. The Award honours Jason Farradane, who first made an impact on the LIS community with a paper on the ‘scientific approach to documentation’ presented at a Royal Society Scientific Information Conference in 1948. He was instrumental in establishing […]

Book Review  Information Behaviour by Tom Wilson

Nowadays we are very familiar with information retrieval, interactive information retrieval, information risk and information management but information behaviour (not information behaviours – as Tom Wilson emphasizes in this book) is rarely discussed even though thanks to Luciano Floridi we have a good understanding of the philosophy of information. There is now no excuse for […]

Paul Cleverley’s presentation to Search Solutions 2020 has now been published

At Search Solutions 2020 Paul Cleverley presented a paper on the research he had carried out with Fionualla  Cousins and Simon Burnett on the search patterns for Covid-19 within a very large oil and gas company during the initial stages of the lockdown in early 2020. Paul was not able to share his presentation slides […]

Search Insights 2021 is now available

Since 2018 The Search Network has been publishing an annual Search Insights report which is a set of short essays on a wide range of issues broadly (but not totally)  related to enterprise search. Search Insights 2021 can be downloaded free-of-charge, and with no requirement to register, from the web site of The Search Network. […]

Open source search and OpenSearch

At the beginning of 2021 ElasticSearch took the open source search community by surprise when it announced some changes to its licensing model and subsequently highlighted the differences between the ElasticSearch and AWS offerings. Charlie Hull, Managing Consultant at Open Source Solutions, has been tracking the outcomes of this decision, and very courageously set up […]