Winter 2012


ECIR 2011: Conference Chairs

Welcome to the January 2012 edition of Informer, the quarterly newsletter of the BCS Information Retrieval Specialist Group (IRSG). For those of you who have been eagerly waiting for the next issue, we are pleased to announce that after a bit of a hibernation we are back in full swing. Has it really been more than two years since we last had an update on information retrieval research, handcrafted in Tony’s study and sent out as a PDF file? Well, the world has changed, and we are back with a new-look Informer that makes is easier for us to update you as quickly as possible and for you to feed back your ideas to us immediately.

Those of you who have have not heard about the IRSG or Informer before may still have come across some of the events we are in charge of. Our flagship event is the annual European Conference on Information Retrieval (ECIR), and ECIR 2011 was a great success with record numbers of submissions and a week of sunshine and blue sky in Dublin (believe it or not). Read more…

The Three Circles of Collaborative Search

Search often appears personal, introspective, and private; an activity of the individual in isolation. In fact, most researchers depict search as a single-user activity. Yet a 2008 survey found that over half of respondents self-reported having co-operated with other people to search the web, while an impressive 97.1% went on to indicate at least one form of collaborative search activity in which they had engaged (Morris, 2008). It’s safe to say that collaboration is pervasive.

Yet collaborative search is a broad term, encompassing explicit cooperation with others during information seeking, enlisting help from one’s social groups, and implicit collaboration with strangers. We must attain a holistic view of collaboration in order to design socially-aware search applications that support collaboration. I believe that holistic view can be found in a three-circle model: the inner circle, intermediate social circles, and the outer circle.
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Conference Review: Search Solutions 2011

In November I attended the British Computer Society Information Retrieval Specialist Group’s annual Search Solutions conference, which brings together theoreticians and practitioners to discuss the latest advances in search. This is always a fascinating event, split into several sessions to cover the various aspects of search: web, enterprise and more. Read more…

Delivering Successful Search Within the Enterprise

There is a strange phenomenon surrounding enterprise search. Unlike the practical factors of managing enterprise content, search is shrouded by the expectations of magic.  It is the only component of a document management or content management platform that is expected to work flawlessly out of the box, just point-and-index for perfect search results every time. After all, enterprise search engines are just like Web search engines only smaller, right? Wrong and the purpose of the article is to examine why enterprise search is not only different from Web search but has the potential to exceed the discovery success of Web search by more than we can imagine. Read more…

Book Review: The Social Semantic Web

The Social Semantic Web by Breslin, J.G., Passant, A., Decker, S.,

ISBN: 978-3-642-01171-9

The Social Semantic Web is, as one would expect, another book on the Semantic Web. This book provides an easy-to-understand insight into Semantic Web and Social Web technologies and highlights research challenges when applying these technologies. The Social Web is defined as the Web where users can share content, discuss, collaborate and meet online. In recent years, Social Web services such as Facebook,, Digg, Wikipedia and other online platforms that thrive on user input have attracted millions of users as well as significant investment. Hence, the Social Web plays an important role in today’s online communities. Semantic Web technologies attempt to understand the semantics, i.e. the meaning of information. The main argument of the book is that these technologies can match diverse person- to object-oriented data which can be extracted from the Social Web, hence improving the way information is processed and utilised.

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Book Review: Semantic Web Information Management

Semantic Web Information Management, A Model-Based Perspective by Roberto De Virgilio, Fausto Giunchiglia and Letizia Tanca (Eds).

ISBN 978-3-642-04328-4

Be it from Twitter, blogs, newspapers, scientific articles, the Large Hadron Collider or from high-throughput sequencers, we live in a world where the volume of digital data is ever-increasing. These documents and data may available through the World Wide Web. However, interpreting, processing and integrating them are time-consuming and not easily automatable tasks. These tasks convert data into information and deal with the semantic heterogeneity, i.e. the different ways of expressing the same information. The Semantic Web is an extension of the Web designed to tackle these issues and to make the information processable by computers.

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Events Diary

AGM/Talks/One Day Events

  1. BCS IRSG Search Solutions 2012. The annual one day event on search practice. 28th November 2012

Read more…