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Bangalore, Karnataka, India
If it's green, it's biology. If it stinks, it's chemistry. If it has numbers, it's math. If it doesn't work, it's technology and I am doing my Masters in it ........

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Endorsements on the Web

Web Information Retrieval is a fairly new science and identifying models and behaviors in Web is still a very much an open question. The amount of active research in the domain of Information Retrieval and effort to analyze data just proves the fact that the hidden semantics in the unstructured network of data, if harnessed properly can lead to amazing results and conclusions. But, this is far easy said than done. The very term "Unstructured Information" can lead to a mathematically exploding count of possibilities of potential problems in analysis.

Last semester's course of Web IR did actually put some light into some issues and motivated us to look into some of them, but the main problem lies with the fact that "we don't know what we don't know" :)

Google is synonyms with search for any internet user now, people don't search anymore they just "Google It". Now what would it take for a company to establish such a branding? So how does it all work after all ? This is itself an open question. Anyways I don't intend this post to be a guide to how search engine works? Probably somebody trying to figure that out will not even land up on this very page. So how does one land on a web page? Is it mere hyper links - which form the structure and edges of the network of WWW. Or is it something way beyond that. The presence of a link to Page B on Page A is not just random, it is being put up on purpose. Now if look deeper, we realize whether it be positive or negative endorsement the occurrence of a link of Page A to Page B, irrespective of nature in a way increases the probability of the user landing on Page B. :) Now if "hits" is the way to identify popularity of a web page, Page B ends up right on top.

This is true and a well established fact. I am sure all people aware of the field of IR would more or less agree with me on this. Incidentally today morning I met my faculty who had taught me the course on Web IR, and a very interesting discussion came up. The endorsement model on a social network like Twitter. Hmmm, so what's the big deal, its again the same underlying concept, that's what I suggested. However he suggested otherwise, he proposed in a model like Twitter the fact whether an endorsement is positive or negative has more relevance. Thinking more, I actually was surprised.

Consider a situation where I receive a tweet from my friend @abc - "What the heck? I can't adjust with anybody in the world". Now if I am re tweeting this, am I actually endorsing him? Probably not, the message has tight coupling with the user and his social image. Now giving away such an endorsement is not going to guarantee any value addition for user @abc. In fact, it would adversely affect the user with a recommendation. Isn't that opposite to our conventional knowledge and assumption. Now that's yet another open question :)

The very thought process that let me motivate to write this blog is the discussion I had today with Mandar. Thanks to him :), he has always been kind enough to share such wonderful insights with me. Now I "knowingly" insert a hyper link to his page. This was not at all random :) Was it?

Mandar's Blog
Mandar on Twitter


viswanath said...

Well written insights(implications) in which we are living(Web).

Mandar said...

So how does one land on a web page? Is it mere hyper links - which form the structure and edges of the network of WWW

Actually, the hyperlink is no longer the only major social artefact on the Web that it once was.

For instance, with the advent of social bookmarking systems, tags have become an extremely popular way to store and access information. A tag is typically a handle with which a reader identifies with a document. Across the system, there might be some common tags that most users assign to a particular document -- these are perhaps indicative of the topic (e.g. "WebIR", "Linear Algebra", etc.) or nature (e.g. "tutorial", "handbook", etc.) of the document. Apart from this, the user is free to add any other tag with which she alone might identify with that document (e.g. "interesting", "related to my research", etc.)!

Microblogging too has changed the way we look at information. I especially love the 140 chars restriction -- just one look at a tweet and one can decide whether it is interesting to one or not (well, mostly, if not always). This is difficult in, say, a blog or a web page, which are both much more verbose.

My 2 cents...


PS: Thanks for the link, by the way. It reminded me that I had a blog too. :)

Sandeep said...

Thanks Visu and Mandar,

@Mandar - I totally agree with your idea of 140 char, that's what makes it special and stand apart from blogs and other sources of information. The ability of making decision of by just hovering your eye over a tweet makes it the BEST.

Thanks a lot for your insights.

Anenth said...

Thanks for refreshing me the topics of our last sem course ;)
Looking forward for frequent posts from you,Sandy ...