Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Blogging is also about branding

Recently, Daniel Tunkelang wrote a blog post about why he was blogging. In a nutshell, he considers blogging to be fun and highlights how it can increase the "reputation capital" of the blogger. Daniel Lemire made a follow-up, stressing the networking benefit of blogging. I very much concur with both views. On the other hand, while blogging, both bloggers do not shun away from expressing their thoughts and opinions on various topics ranging from enterprise and blog search to peer reviewing or the benefit of pure theoretical research, through opinions on a search engine such as Duck Duck Go!

Such perspectives and opinions are not only informative and valuable to readers like myself, but they are also extremely important for various organisations. Indeed, according to an article on the BCS news website, blogging is very important for brands. The article quotes Rachel Hawkes, co-founder and editor of the Social Media Portal (SMP):

Blogs provide an opportunity for a two-way interaction to take place between business and consumer. This allows customers to provide 'incredibly valuable' feedback on how the brand is doing in the real world, which can help guide improvements and sales strategies.

The above scenario is one of the motivations for the opinion-finding search task that we have been investigating in the TREC Blog track since three years. The task addresses a search scenario where a user aims to uncover what the bloggers/consumers are saying or thinking about X. If the "user" is a business, and X is one of its products, then “taking the pulse of the blogosphere” is very important for this business's branding. In fact, the opinion-finding task can naturally be associated with settings such tracking consumer-generated content, brand monitoring, and, more generally, media analysis. Findings and insights gained from 3-years of the opinion-finding search task at the TREC Blog track will be discussed in the furthcoming TREC Conference (18-21 November 2008), held in NIST, USA.

Monday, October 20, 2008

CIKM 2008

We will shortly be travelling to attend the CIKM 2008 conference in Napa Valley. The organisers are announcing that it will be the biggest ever CIKM conference, and hope that it will be the most memorable one.

Following the ECIR 2008 conference example, I'm pleased to note that the organisers are making CIKM 2008 a green conference, through optimal usage of logistics and resources.

The conference has a very exciting scientific program, and an impressive social program, including a Halloween party.

We will be presenting two full papers in the Blog session on Wednesday 29th October 2008, 10:15-11:45am:. Both papers tackle search tasks investigated within the TREC Blog track:

  • Key Blog Distillation: Ranking Aggregate. Craig Macdonald, Iadh Ounis (University of Glasgow, UK) - The paper addresses the blog distillation task, as task characterised as “Find me a blog with a principle, recurring interest in X.”
  • An Effective Statistical Approach to Blog Post Opinion Retrieval. Ben He, Craig Macdonald, Jiyin He, Iadh Ounis (University of Glasgow, UK) - The paper tackles the opinion-finding task in the blogosphere, a task characterised by “What do people think about X?”
The third paper of the Blog session is from UMass, a regular participant in the TREC Blog track. It also investigates the blog distillation search task:
  • Blog Site Search Using Resource Selection. Jangwon Seo, Bruce Croft (University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA)
We hope to see you in CIKM!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

TREC Blog track will run in 2009

Following our previous post, I'm pleased to report that we have just heard that the TREC program committee has accepted our proposal for the blog track to continue in 2009.

The intention is to use a larger Blog collection, and to have at least one search task that goes beyond topical relevance by taking into account a facet representing an attribute of required "quality".

There will be a workshop to discuss the proposed blog search tasks at the TREC 2008 conference on the afternoon of Thursday 20th November 2008.

If you cannot attend TREC, and wish to make any comments or suggestions, please feel free to post your thoughts in this post, or to email them privately, if you wish so.