The Getting of Knowledge: What Is Information Retrieval, And What Might It Become?
Search systems are amongst the most successful technologies of our era. Based on algorithms and principles from the field of Information Retrieval (IR), they have developed from computerized variants of library indexes to rich environments that provide global access to information. At the same time, the contexts in which these systems are now used are drastically different to those for which they were originally conceived: the commonest use is via a personal device, highly available and location-aware, and search is over vast quantities of heterogeneous data. In response, the scope of IR has itself changed, to embrace a diverse range of allied fields. However, the standard explanations of IR do not capture the experience that search systems deliver, and omit a key component: the role of people. In this talk, I introduce alternative perspectives on IR, and argue that such perspectives not only provide a compelling, provocative vision of the field but also may provide the basis for new research agendas and potential future technologies.
Professor Justin Zobel is Head of the University of Melbourne’s School of Computing & Information Systems. He received his PhD from the University of Melbourne and for many years was based at RMIT University, where he led the Search Engine group. In the research community, Professor Zobel is best known for his role in the development of algorithms for efficient web search. His current research areas include search, bioinformatics, and algorithms and data structures. He is an author of three texts on graduate study and research methods: Writing for Computer Science and How to Write a Better Thesis, both now in their third editions, and, most recently, How to Write Your First Thesis. He has on three occasions been a program chair of SIGIR, the most significant conference in IR, and is an associate editor of the Journal of Information Retrieval.