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Move Away from the Vehicle February 21, 2007

Posted by Mia in Uncategorized.

More and more, probabilistic search models are coming to the fore. The exalted (but primitive) boolean search, and so-called “advanced” keyword search is receding. This is a Good Thing. Standard keyword searching is not receding quickly enough in libraryland, unfortunately. Maybe avant-garde in the 70’s, but really stale now.

At our own peril we continue to ignore our very own professional librarian researchers in our very own field of information retrieval. It’s that information scientist in me again — which makes me a member of the ‘dark side’.

What is the dark side? Well, that would be that place where professionals specialize in the infrastructure on which all this is based. The stuff that newfangled Information Architects are all a-buzz with. The stuff that people write Wired columns about. The stuff that makes up metadata and the semantic web. The stuff that ontologies and FRBR are about.

It is in our enlightened self-interest to read and pay attention to some of the findings of our own professional research. Research on HCI and user search behavior, for instance, which is almost entirely produced by all those library scientist types.

Failing that, of course, if we continue to insist on putting together systems and interfaces that do not reflect those realities, then users are free to ignore us.

And we have pretty good anecdotal evidence that many have already voted with their mice.