Search

Faceted search

This page on Search Tools attempts to summarize how facets might be used in search.

Google WebQuotes

A new application in Google Labs:

    Google WebQuotes annotates the results of your Google search with comments from other websites. This offers a convenient way to get a third party's opinion about each of the returns for your search, providing you with more information about that site's credibility and reputation.
See for instance the search results for information architecture. Beneath each result is a list of sites that comment on a result page, showing a short excerpt of the comments.

Intranet Search vs. Internet Search

In December's CIO Magazine, Dick Stenmark, head of Internet and intranet search solutions at Volvo Information Technology, takes on intranet search:


The search engine industry and the research community alike often fail to acknowledge that intranets are not just downscaled versions of the Internet, but are instead a whole different environment in terms of both content and culture. We use the same technology to build both, but the contexts in which they operate are entirely different.

The article is fairly short but quite informative and definitely worth a read. Remember, kids, it's all about users + content + context...

GoogleViewer

People at Google must love being able to experiment with the medium. Webgraphics pointed to the new GoogleViewer that is appearing in the labs, which takes your search results and presents each hit (each external URL) in a viewing pane, so you can view each page within Google before going out to the search result page. It's similar to a slide show. I've seen something similar to this with a CMS' search system that shows previews of Office and PDF files, but didn't expect a search engine to do this web pages.

Sites Become Dependent on Google

There's an interesting article in the NY Times that should interest people concerned with search engine optomization. The article reports on some retailers' experiences with Google making or breaking their traffic.

    Google "can be your best friend or your worst enemy," said Dario Ferreira, the owner and operator of Connecticut-Weddings.com.

    ...

    Sometimes a site's ranking plunges drastically or disappears from Google altogether. Often this means that Google detected some evidence that the site's owner was using deceptive tactics, like building a network of linked sites to create the illusion of popularity and thereby receive a higher ranking.

    But site owners say Google can sometimes be overzealous in its fight against manipulation, and some say they live in fear that a small mistake or a technical glitch will get them booted from the search results and wipe out their income.

ZING Initiative at LOC: v1.0 SRW & CQL

The ZING Initiative (Z39.50 International Next Generation), under the auspices of the Z39.50 Maintenance Agency at the Library of Congress, is pleased to announce Version 1.0 of SRW and CQL.

SRW ("Search/Retrieve for the Web") is a web-service-based protocol which aims to integrate access across networked resources, and to promote interoperability between distributed databases by providing a common platform. The underpinnings of the protocol are formed by bringing together more than 20 years experience from the collective implementers of the Z39.50 protocol with recent developments in the web-technologies arena. SRW features both SOAP and URL-based access mechanisms (SRW and SRU respectively) to provide for a wide range of possible clients. It uses CQL, the Common Query Language, which provides a powerful yet intuitive means of formulating searches. The protocol mandates the use of open and industry-supported standards XML and XML Schema, and where appropriate, Xpath and SOAP.

The SRW Initiative recognizes the importance of Z39.50 (as currently defined and deployed) for business communication, and focuses on getting information to the user. SRW provides semantics for searching databases containing metadata and objects, both text and non-text. Building on Z39.50 semantics enables the creation of gateways to existing Z39.50 systems while reducing the barriers to new information providers, allowing them to make their resources available via a standard search and retrieve service.

SRW, SRU, and CQL have been developed by an international team, minimizing cross-language pitfalls and other potential internationalization problems.

The ZING, SRW, and CQL home pages are at:
http://www.loc.gov/zing,
http://www.loc.gov/srw, and
http://www.loc.gov/cql
The Z39.50 Maintenance Agency home page is at
http://www.loc.gov/z3950/agency.

The SRW and CQL version 1.0 specifications will remain stable for a six- to nine-month implementation-experience period. During this period developers are encouraged to implement the specification (see the implementors page at http://www.loc.gov/srw/implementors.html), join the list of implementors, participate in interoperability testing, and help develop the next version, 1.1. Please direct questions, comments, and suggestions to z3950@loc.gov.

Lou on enterprise IA and search log analysis

Lou posted two presentations on his site for speaking engagements he had at the London AIGA-ED group and at ASIS&T 2002 in Philadelphia. The first is on enterprise IA presentation and the second on search log analysis. Ann Light summarizes the enterprise IA presentation at usabilitynews.com.

Internet users impatient with search results

Recent NUA Internet Survey with search statistics.

    According to a recent study from iProspect, three-quarters of Internet users use search engines. However, 16 percent of Internet users only look at the first few search results, while 32 percent will read through to the bottom of the first page. Only 23 percent of searchers go beyond the second page, and the numbers drop for every page thereafter. Only 10.3 percent of Internet users will look through the first three pages of results, while just 8.7 percent will look through more than three pages.
Eye Tracking in Web Search Tasks: Design Implications

This is an interesting 9-page PDF from Stanford (and Oracle?) that gives the results of an small eye tracking study that was run. It's rather technical, but useful, and there's a good list of references at the bottom, so this might best filed in the “save this because it might be very useful later” file.

Search engine optomization consultants

Never heard that term before reading James Allison's Understanding the New Role of SEO Consultants in Traffick. Here's a badly written excerpt.

    [0]ne of the main focus of SEO techniques has been site content, and in this regard, the SEO consultant's role overlaps more and more with the "Information Architect". Just as many members of the SEO community come from an advertising and copywriting background, the IA community is populated by a large number of people with a background in Library and Information Sciences.
Spirituality and the Architecture of the Web

David Weinberger gets interviewed at spirituality.com (don't look too closely at the name of that site or you'll turn into an oxy-moron) about how the Web is a spiritual thing. One of the more interesting bits quoted here:

Too much information is simply noise. But with 20 billion pages on line, we are waaaay past "too much." Fortunately, we are evolving ways of finding what we need, either through brute force searching, or, most efficiently, by relying on the judgment of people we trust.

That's a powerful idea hidden in there: that Trust is in essence the greatest "search technology" we have.

Enhanced Thumbnails for Web Search

Those crazy kids at Xerox PARC are at it again with this neat thing they call Enhanced Thumbnails. The web search demo is particularly interesting.

This demo is a re-creation of the user tests conducted by the research staff, comparing Enhanced Thumbnails to more traditional methods of displaying search results. Study participants were given a set of information-finding tasks to be done using a search engine. Their search results were displayed using text, plain thumbnails, and Enhanced Thumbnails.

And the results?

The study showed that people using Enhanced Thumbnails found the answers to their queries 29% faster than when they used text summaries, and 22% faster than when they used plain thumbnails.

See examples for yourself. (Search 1, Search 2, Search 3)

They also have a stand-alone browser called Popout Prisim (free 90-day trial download available) that integrates this functionality into normal browsing.

Now, all we need is for this to be tied in to the Google Toolbar and we'll be all set...

Search interfaces

I'm dropping Liz Danzico's excellent search interface collection here even though it's not very new.

    Typically, users know what they’re searching for even before they choose a search engine over the site’s navigation. In this investigation, I’d like to explore how we can provide a user interface to help them search more effectively before they get started. This investigation is about the ordering and structure of the search fields themselves, not the results, which have been the topic of much discussion already.
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