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Guest Demo: Eric Iverson’s Itty Bitty Search

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I’m back from vacation, and still digging my way out of everything that’s piled up while I’ve been offline.

While I catch up, I thought I’d share with you a demo that Eric Iverson was gracious enough to share with me. It uses Yahoo! BOSS to support an exploratory search experience on top of a general web search engine.

When you perform a query, the application retrieves a set of related term candidates using Yahoo’s key terms API. It then scores each term by dividing its occurrence count within the result set by its global occurrence count–a relevance measure similar to one my former colleagues and I used at Endeca in enterprise contexts.

You can try out the demo yourself at http://www.ittybittysearch.com/. While it has rough edges, it produces nice results–especially considering the simplicity of the approach.

Here’s an example of how I used the application to explore and learn something new. I started with ["information retrieval"]. I noticed “interactive information retrieval” as a top term, so I used it to refine. Most of the refinement suggestions looked familiar to me–but an unfamiliar name caught my attention: “Anton Leuski”. Following my curiosity, I refined again. Looking at the results, I immediately saw that Leuski had done work on evaluating document clustering for interactive information retrieval. Further exploration made it clear this is someone whose work I should get to know–check out his home page!

I can’t promise that you’ll have as productive an experience as I did, but I encourage you to try Eric’s demo. It’s simple examples like these that remind me of the value of pursuing HCIR for the open web.

Speaking of which, HCIR 2010 is in the works. We’ll flesh out the details over the next weeks, and of course I’ll share them here.


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