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SIGIR 2011 Highlight: “Out of Sight, Not Out of Mind”

August 1, 2011 Leave a comment

A “highlights” post is meant to call attention to a paper which grabbed our attention and we think is worth your time.  This paper, “Out of Sight, Not Out of Mind: On the Effect of Social and Physical Detachment on Information Need” by Elad Yom-Tov and Fernando Diaz won an honorable mention last week at SIGIR 2011 in Beijing.

This paper examines the effect of social and physical distance on queries for events.  The authors examined three cases: the San Bruno, CA gas line explosion of 9/9/2010, a violent storm in New York City that took place on 9/16/2010, and the 2010 Senate election in Alaska.  Data came from a query log of Yahoo! users.  Physical distance was computed using the profile zipcode of each user, and social distance was computed using the zip codes of instant messenger buddies.

The paper finds, perhaps not surprisingly, that the volume of queries related to each event decreases with distance and time from the event, and that searchers with closer geographical and social ties both query more, and query for different kinds of information.

I especially like this view of social search, and of local vs. general-informational search.  I would love to see work on this covering more events and events with a wider range of impact.  The selected events were ones that have a local focus but which achieved nationwide attention in the United States.  It would be interesting to look at events with a longer time-frame (trials, evolving events) and to consider if there are events that have a larger impact socially than geographically.

@inproceedings{Yom-Tov:2011:OSO:2009916.2009970,
 author = {Yom-Tov, Elad and Diaz, Fernando},
 title = {Out of sight, not out of mind: on the effect of social 
          and physical detachment on information need},
 booktitle = {Proceedings of the 34th international ACM SIGIR conference 
              on Research and development in Information},
 series = {SIGIR '11},
 year = {2011},
 isbn = {978-1-4503-0757-4},
 location = {Beijing, China},
 pages = {385--394},
 numpages = {10},
 url = {http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/2009916.2009970},
 doi = {http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/2009916.2009970},
 acmid = {2009970},
 publisher = {ACM},
 address = {New York, NY, USA},
 keywords = {distance, information, need, physical, social},
}
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Vote for the best CIKM 2010 papers

October 26, 2010 1 comment

CIKM 2010 is taking place right now in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  I have collected all the papers in the IR track below.  Please take a moment to vote for those papers you think are the most provocative, innovative, startling, or otherwise interesting.  You can vote for up to 3 papers.

I had to make a hard decision here to just do the IR track.  CIKM has four tracks — IR, DB, KM, and industry, and there are entire sessions in the other tracks that are of interest to the IR community.  Mostly I decided to constrain this poll to the IR track to keep the size reasonable.  There may be an additional poll for DB/KM/IND papers if the comments go that way.

After the conference, the Not Relevant editorial board will choose several papers based on the votes here, and post summaries of those papers.  The end result should be a must-read guide to CIKM 2010.

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