industrial take on complex search tasks

This morning, I gave a presentation to the workshop on
Supporting Complex Search Tasks on how we at Gavagai handle complex information needs. Mostly I claimed three things:

  • Complexity is not necessarily in the formulation of the information need. Most of our customers perceive themselves as having simple information needs. Or at least those needs are simple to formulate in informal language. We believe an information system should accommodate this, and if needs indeed are complex or change, allow simple and painless reformulation.
  • Greatest challenge is in attention to new information — introducing new information aggregation tools will add business complexity, not reduce it.
  • Evaluation of information systems in the way it is done in academia is good for assessing progress on the cutting edge. Industry has greater need for establishing Best Practice guidelines and in satisficing technology needs than in optimising them.

Slides for my talk on Complex aspects of seemingly simple information needs.

In interesting discussions after the initial presentations, the workshop discussed the need for a quality assessment of data collection methodology. We expect to suggest such a procedure for next year’s edition of this workshop.