And finally….from the Editor

The quarterly Informer newsletter has been published by IRSG for almost 30 years, initially as a PDF and since 2012 as a web journal using a WordPress platform. Throughout its history it has been a channel of record for conferences and other events and a means of alerting members to forthcoming events, constantly trying to keep a balance between content for the academic and research community of IRSG and the practitioner/search manager community. IRSG has always seen its role as being a means of bringing these two communities together, exemplified by the Search Solutions conference each year.

If you look at other BCS Specialist Groups, notably the Groups with IT interests, they maintain contact with their members through Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. There is an IRSG Twitter account @bcs_irsg but we have not had any Group-specific Facebook and LinkedIn accounts.

My departure as Editor in early January, once the Winter 2023 issue is published, would seem to be a good time to consider the relationship between the IRSG web site (which was redesigned along BCS Corporate lines in 2021) and Informer. The IRSG Committee are going to consider the options at its meeting in early September and it would welcome comments from IRSG members about the value of Informer in its three roles as a record of past events, alerting members to forthcoming events (including the Awards) and also providing a selection of news and opinion on information retrieval research, development and implementation. As Editor I have constantly asked myself as I collate and write each issue whether the balance is correct and is of interest to at least a majority of the very diverse membership of the Group. Inevitably there is a bias towards search practice as that aligns with my own interest in enterprise search but I do try to give space to as wide a range of contributions as I can. The enduring problem for any Editor of a newsletter such as Informer is the extent to which they end up writing content because of a lack of contributions (and interest?) from members of the Group.

The Editorship has always been a voluntary role but maybe there is a case to be made for offering a fee to an Editor to collate the content, but that assumes that the content is contributed in the first place. I am in the fortunate position of being both an active search consultant and also a Visiting Professor at the Information School, University of Sheffield, so am in the fortunate position of being able to take a dual perspective on content.

There is also a technical issue with the timing. The WordPress template has not been upgraded since 2012 and that makes many aspects of production quite challenging. In the course of my Editorship I have been superbly supported by the production skills of Steve Zimmerman and Tony Russell-Rose. Tony often republishes Informer content in his Information Interaction blog and the difference in visual style is very marked!  Moving to a new template is not just a technical issue as the template needs to support the publishing and social media/member communications strategy of the Group.

No one more than I would appreciate seeing an avalanche of comments and suggestions for the future communication strategy so please do take this opportunity to email IRSG Chair Udo Kruschwitz  with your ideas, preferably before 31 August so that they can be considered at the next meeting of the Committee and there is time then for me to help with what ever transition needs to be undertaken to maintain the onward and upward development of IRSG.

Martin White


About Martin White
Martin White

Martin is an information scientist and the author of Making Search Work and Enterprise Search. He has been involved with optimising search applications since the mid-1970s and has worked on search projects in both Europe and North America. Since 2002 he has been a Visiting Professor at the Information School, University of Sheffield and is currently working on developing new approaches to search evaluation.

One response to “And finally….from the Editor”

  1. Tony Russell-Rose

    Thanks for starting the discussion on this, Martin. I’d urge the committee to prioritise this issue at the next meeting (which I hope to attend). In addition to the reasons quoted above, there is also the issue of security – I won’t go into detail here but we do need make a decision on this ASAP.

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