Feature Article

IR and ACL Anthologies

The US equivalent of IRSG is SIGIR, which publishes its Forum newsletter every six months. This is always a very good read and you do not have to be a member of SIGIR to do so. One of the feature articles in the June issue (which only came online in October!) is an introduction to […]

Big Information and big budgets

The concept of Big Data has been around for some time. John Mashey at Silicon Graphics is usually credited with inventing the term in a presentation he gave in 1998. Without doubt big data is very difficult to manage and the demand for people with data science skills never seems to slow down. However much […]

History of the Institute of Information Scientists 1958-2002

Over the last two years I have been working with Dr. Sandra Ward and Professor Charles Oppenheim in writing a history of the Institute of Information Scientists. The IIS was founded in 1958, largely due to the vision and commitment of Jason Farradane and the support of G. Malcolm Dyson. The IIS merged/was taken over […]

And finally….

I suspect that the name G. Malcolm Dyson in the History of the IIS item above will be unfamiliar to anyone who has not been in chemical information retrieval for quite a number of decades. Dyson developed a linear notation for organic chemical compounds in 1946, initially with a view to supporting the use of […]

Report on the SIGIR 2021 Workshop “IR for Children 2000-2020: Where Are We Now?”

Authors (Monica Landoni, Theo Huibers, Emiliana Murgia, and Sole Pera) This year, researchers and practitioners gathered during a workshop co-located with the 44th edition of the renowned ACM SIGIR conference to discuss the current status of information retrieval (IR) research targeting children. The idea of hosting a workshop at ACM SIGIR first emerged from discussions […]

David Maxwell wins the 2020 BCS/CPHC Distinguished Dissertation award

The BCS in collaboration with the Council of Professors and Heads of Computing (CPHC) gives an annual award for the best thesis in computer science. David (at that time at the University of Glasgow) was recognised for his thesis: ‘Modelling search and stopping in interactive information retrieval.’ David is now undertaking post-graduate research at the […]

Is there now a business in paid-for web search?

I would commend a blog post by Stephen Arnold on the future of paid-for web search, prompted by the release of Neeva which comes free for three months and then you pay $4.95 a month. (That fee is in very very small print on the home page!) Over the years several companies have tried to […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

My 2020: Lockdown and Stroopwafels

Editor – Since March 2020, David Maxwell has been a postdoctoral researcher at Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in the Netherlands. He is looking at Interactive Information Retrieval (IIR) and Search as Learning (SAL). I asked him to write an account of his experience both living and working as a Post-Doc researcher. Over to […]

The state of enterprise search in Scandinavia in 2019

IntraTeam was established in 2000 with a vision of creating and supporting a community of intranet managers in Denmark. There are 23 communities in Sweden and Denmark that meet quarterly to exchange experience and ideas. Every Spring members of these communities come together at the three-day IntraTeam Event in Copenhagen. From the very beginning IntraTeam […]

Peter Willett – reflections on the occasion of his retirement

Peter Willett – reflections on the occasion of his retirement

Peter Willett retired from the Information School at The University of Sheffield at the end of 2019 after a long and hugely successful career. Peter is well known throughout the world for his contributions to information retrieval, bibliometrics and chemoinformatics. As well as being a hugely influential researcher, Peter is also held in very high […]

Syria’s First Web Search Engine: An Interview with Shadi Saleh

This interview was conducted by on Saturday, July 13, 2019 (editing for brevity and language jointly by the interviewer and interviewee.) Jochen Leidner: Today, I have on the line Shadi Saleh, co-founder of the first-ever Web search engine in Syria. I met Shadi at ECIR 2019 [the 41st European Conference on Information Retrieval] in Cologne, […]

My week: Natasha Chowdory, a CEBIS Specialist at a large hospital in the West Midlands

My week: Natasha Chowdory, a CEBIS Specialist at a large hospital in the West Midlands

Our work is fairly constant, with large influxes in September and January from people gearing up for conference submissions. However, it’s not just conference submissions but also applying for research grants. A fair amount of the research we do, will contribute to bids that individuals make for the hospital – some of which that have […]

1959 – the dawn of relevance and the benefits of IR

There was a remarkable amount of interest in the publication of a belated obituary of Karen Sparck Jones in the New York Times on 9 January 2019. I was delighted to see that the University of Cambridge obituary for Karen (published at the time of her death in 2007) has now been updated with the […]

Visualizing search strategies (part 2)

In our last post we reviewed some of the issues involved in developing effective solutions to complex search problems, and explored some of the challenges involved in formulating and representing Boolean strings and expressions. In particular, we explored the contribution of three experimental systems which aimed to offer an alternative to the conventional approach exemplified by line-by-line query builders and ‘advanced […]

Visualizing search strategies

According to the IDC whitepaper, The High Cost of Not Finding Information, knowledge workers spend 2.5 hours per day searching for information. Whether they eventually find what they are looking for or just stop and make a sub-optimal decision, there is a high cost to both outcomes. The recruitment industry, for example, relies on Boolean search as the […]