Blog Archive: 2010

What’s private on the Web?

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Hillary Mason of bit.ly wrote a nice summary of some key issues raised in the recent Search in Social Media 2010 workshop. (For other commentary, see Daniel Tunkelang”s post and our pre-workshop comments.) Hillary asked several important questions, that break out into two main topics: what and how can we compute from social data on one hand, and what are the implications of those computations. Aspects such as computing relevance, how to architect social search engines, and how to represent users’ information needs in appropriate ways all represent the what and how category. We can be sure that adequate  engineering solutions will be found these problems.

The second topic, however, is more problematic because it deals more with the impact that technology has on the individual and on society, rather than about technology per se.

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Making sense of Twitter search

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Last week Jeremy and I attended the SSM2010 workshop held in conjunction with WSDM2010. In addition to chairing one of the panels, I got an opportunity to demonstrate an interface that I built to browse Twitter search results, to which Daniel alluded in his summary of the workshop. The system is described in a position paper (co-authored with Miles Efron) that has been accepted to the Microblogging workshop held in conjunction with CHI 2010.

The idea behind this interface is that Twitter displays its search results only by date, thereby making it difficult to understand anything about the result set other than what the last few tweets were. But tweets are structurally rich, including such metadata as the identity of the tweeter, possible threaded conversation, mentioned documents, etc. The system we built is an attempt to explore the possibilities of how to bring HCIR techniques to this task.

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SSM2010

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Last Wednesday Jeremy and I participated in the SSM2010 workshop organized by Ian Soboroff (NIST), Eugene Agichtein (Emory University), Daniel Tunkelang (Google), and Marti Hearst (University of California, Berkeley).  It was a full day of panels, discussions and poster presentations on a variety of topics related to search, to social media, and how to combine the two. In an earlier post, I wrote about one way that we can characterize the space, and Daniel did an excellent job of summarizing the workshop, which was also cross-posted  at BLOG@CACM.

I am still trying to digest all that I learned during the day, but I can say that one of the challenges was live-tweeting the event. I was one of several people who tweeted about what was happening in the panels and about the issues that were raised. Over 500 tweets were sent and resent with the workshop’s hashtag by people at the event and elsewhere. It was interesting to see other people pick up some of the topics and comment on them. In particular, several of my twitter friends who are not part of the SSM research community had commented on the tweets, and retweeted certain aspects of the discussion.

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What do we mean by “Search in Social Media”?

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Jeremy and I have been busy preparing for the Search in Social Media (SSM2010) workshop. We thought we would start at the beginning and ask what people understood by the term “search in social media.” Workshops often spend a bunch of time on definitions, and we thought we’d jump in early. We’ve talked about social search before, but that was without reference to social media.

We think the phrase ‘search in social media’ has been used to refer to both the information being searched, and to the process for doing so. The information is standard user-generated content — tweets, blog posts, comment threads, tags, etc. The process, however, seems less well understood.

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SSM2010 panel: Research Directions for Search in Social Media

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The third workshop on Search in Social Media (SSM2010) will held in conjunction with WDSM 2010 in early February. The workshop, organized this year by Eugene Agichtein (Emory University), Marti Hearst (University of California, Berkeley), Ian Soboroff (NIST), and Daniel Tunkelang (Google), will bring together academics and people from industry (including the major search engines). The keynote will be given by Jan Pedersen, who is now Chief Scientist for Core Search at Microsoft. It will address issues of what the big players are doing, what the more specialized social media companies are up to, and will also tackle important research problems in the field.

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