Information seeking is a fundamental human activity, often conducted through interactions with automated search systems. The retrieval and comprehension of information returned by these systems is a key part of decision making and action in a broad range of settings; searching skills are now even taught in schools. The processes by which people retrieve and use information has been examined in detail by the information science, information retrieval, and human-computer interaction research communities for decades.
Information scientists have targeted the cognitive and behavioral mechanisms involved in the formulation of information needs and the processes by which people search for information and update their beliefs. The goal of searching is often regarded to be to reduce uncertainty in light of the information encountered, but there may also be the intention to increase that uncertainty, for example during exploratory or leisure search scenarios. Information retrieval researchers have targeted the development of new search technologies, including more advanced methods for ranking, indexing, and crawling, that facilitates the collection and selection of potentially relevant content from large document collections such as the World Wide Web or within large enterprises (where the goal may be to locate people with specific expertise rather than find information items). Human-computer interaction researchers have investigated how people interact with technology, and they have developed interfaces to allow searchers to explore and make sense of information resources as well as generate hypotheses to guide future exploration activities and decision making. In this book I discuss how new interaction capabilities such as touch and gesture, the emergence of cloud and mobile computing, machine learning, and big (and small) data mining will change the search landscape over the next decade and beyond. By building on these and other pillars, next-generation search systems will empower people and support the activities that they value.
This is the first book devoted to discussing how the range of emerging technologies can be employed to improve the search experience. To enable this transformation, many research communities – including information retrieval, human factors, data mining, and machine learning – must cooperate on the development of systems that empower searchers and leverage the broad array of tools at their disposal to make search a productive and pleasurable experience.
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