To start with IRSG affairs, our Chairman Udo Kruschwitz comments on some aspects of the very successful ECIR 2023 conference and our Secretary, Steven Zimmerman has an update on Committee Membership following the 2022 AGM held in November following the Search Solutions 2022 event. The ECIR 2023 conference was a great success, and there are excellent reviews of the Conference itself and the Industry Day which is a popular feature of ECIR. ECIR is also the venue for the presentation of the Karen Spark Jones Award, and I am grateful to William Wang for allowing me to interview him (sadly remotely!) about the way that his career has developed. Clearly a very worthy recipient of the Award. The role of managing the Awards process for the KSJ Award 2023 has now passed from Professor Jochen Leidner to Dr Haiming Liu.
Another Award that IRSG is associated with is the Tony Kent Strix Award, managed by the UKeiG. In 2022 there were, exceptionally, two winners, Professor Iadh Ounis and Dr Ryen White, and Graham McDonald has written a report on their lectures.
On the subject of conferences, IRSG has published an invitation to run one-day events for the Group, details of which can be found on the IRSG web site.
Andy MacFarlane provides a list of forthcoming events (with my thanks for meeting a difficult deadline). Among them are Search Solutions 2023 and (though not an IRSG event) CIKM 2023 in Birmingham in October.
The last few months have seen a torrent of announcements and pontifications about the evolution of LLMs and associated applications. I’ve included a report of an Alan Turing Institute conference I attended in late February as a way of demonstrating the rate of evolution of these technologies. In my tail-end slot I offer some reflections on the speed of development of AIGC applications against the speed of research and research publication. Editors always have an in-tray and I’ve included a few items from mine that you might find of interest.
As a demonstration of ChatGPT in operation, I had invited Steve Zimmerman to write about his transition from academic to practitioner and in this issue you will find both Steve’s original text and the ChatGPT summary version.
Another perspective on the work of search practitioners is a fascinating account by Christoffer Stjernlöf of IR software development for e-commerce search, where high relevance is absolutely essential and yet very challenging to achieve. To complement a feature on e-commerce search I have written a review of the first English edition of Understanding Search Engines by Professor Dirk Lewandowski, amazingly the first book on this topic to be published, 28 years after the launch of Alta Vista. But well worth waiting for!!
In the October issue…
The next issue of Informer will close for copy contributions on 13 October and be published towards the end of the month with full details of the Search Solutions 2023 programme
It will also definitely and absolutely be my last issue! So if you have always looked at Informer and thought you could do a better job than me (very likely!) this is your opportunity to demonstrate your skills. As regular readers are aware, my take on IR life is very much from a practitioner perspective, so perhaps it might be a good time to pass the baton to someone with an alternative perspective.
We had hoped to introduce a new web platform for Informer this year but for a range of reasons this has not happened. It would be ideal to have the 2024 Editor in place by early September at the latest so that we could jointly work on the options for the future based on how the October issue is put together even if there is not time to make a change for the October issue itself. If you would like to chat about what the Editorship entails then contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org