Ivan’s private site

March 23, 2008

IR and SW communities (Baeza-Yates et. al.’s comments)

Filed under: Semantic Web,Work Related — Ivan Herman @ 10:37

It is quite unfortunate that IEEE still has not recognized the power of the Web, and their publications are still accessible through subscriptions only. This is also true for sections such as the “Trends & Controversies” of the IEEE Intelligent Systems. Anyway, I hope I do not break any copyright by quoting a few sentences…

The latest (i.e., January/February 2008) issue of IEEE IS includes a T&C section entitled “Near Terms Prospects for Semantic Technologies”. It includes a number of short papers, all worth reading. Among those there is also a short contribution by Ricardo Baeza-Yates, Péter Mika and Hugo Zaragoza (all three from Yahoo! Research in Barcelona, Spain) on the relationships between search and SW. They ask the question: “Why has the Semantic Web had so little effect on search services?” They put forward several reasons, but I was most compelled by the “cultural” divide that they claim to exist between communities. Here is what they write:

[…] a clear cultural divide exists between the IR and Semantic Web communities. IR conferences prove difficult for researchers from other fields to attend, owing largely to a strong emphasis on methodology and, in particular, evaluation. Consequently, existing work on ontology-based IR focuses on smaller subtasks such as query expansion using ontologies or improving search result presentation, but there’s little work on reshaping the IR core. […] Also, as Semantic Web research continues to experience considerable growth and attract significant funding for basic research, members of the community feel less compelled to even attempt breaking these barriers, real or imagined, despite the significant economic motivators. IR research is strongly driven by a problem, whereas Semantic Web research is driven by a solution. Metaphorically speaking, Semantic Web researchers are like the hobbyist toolsmith who has the idea for the perfect tool and resents compromises on the design. However, IR, as a customer, is interested in buying a hammer that might not be perfect but can drive nails quickly and precisely.

Let us not forget: these are friendly critiques coming from a group that has just stirred a significant interest in being at the forefront in binding these two areas! Worth remembering, in my view.

Add-on to the original mail on 2008-04-05: I have received a mail from IEEE, that the T&S section is now available online. Great…

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1 Comment

  1. […] IR and SW communities […]

    Pingback by Nodalities » Blog Archive » This Week’s Semantic Web — April 17, 2008 @ 18:52


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