Well, it looks like there’s now a name for the context issues raised in one of my old posts. It’s called “role-based search environment” and Lou Paglia blogs about his upcoming discussion topic at the Search Engine Meeting 2007 Conference titled, “Beyond Search: Visualizing Emerging Intelligence”. Wish I could attend this conference, more specifically this presentation, as the common thread of the various early stage companies that I’m currently involved in working with or on their advisory boards, is this very theme. Several of them touch on aspects of what Lou will be speaking about:
“This presentation discusses the current state of search, the advantages to text mining in extracting meaning from unstructured data as well as the future of search such as a move towards a role-based search environment, which will likely be one of the biggest technology trends to affect the enterprise. The concept of “role-based” search is about systems intelligent enough to understand the totality of what you do: your industry, your job and the daily tasks you undertake, and then help you accomplish those specific things more effectively. Effective role-based search applications will use technologies that uncover trending, comparison, discovery and determination of sentiment, which will then feed into applications that present the information using visualization and analytics. The session will also address business searching and how search networks will realign themselves to help all types of professionals find better information, faster.“
My beef with so many of the methods being applied to enhancing search (ie. personalized search, social search, etc.) is that they frequently miss the critical contextual aspect, “who am I (or what’s my role) when I search for…”. In a project I’m involved with this is an important aspect being explored, as we consider letting the user tell us their professional function as a means of bringing some perspective to bear on the results of their information discovery exercise beyond other relevance metrics. Healia, a healthcare search engine does exactly this where in addition to providing the user with results from their search on say “diabetes”, the user can further specify that they are “female”, “teen”, and of “Hispanic Heritage”, and the results will sort appropriately different than say a “male”, “senior” of “Asian Heritage”. These criteria matter.
Glad to see that this important component of context is being addressed in more public ways now.
While this conference looks a bit vendor-centric in terms of the presenters, the topics being addressed seem very interesting.