ASIS&T IA Summit 2003 "Making Connections"  
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The Accidental Thesaurus: Enhancing Search Precision through Manual-Selected "Best Bets"
Saturday, 5:00 - 5:30

Session One


Richard Wiggins
The Accidental Thesaurus: Enhancing Search Precision through Manual-Selected "Best Bets"

What Core IA related Issues Are Addressed? What Will the Audience
Learn/Take-Away from the Presentation?

Web publishers tend to put a great of thought into site architecture and design. Generally, this translates into careful work on site organization,structure, labeling of links, etc. Unfortunately, we tend to think of thesearch function as the pure province of robotic spiders and search engines;what appears at the top of the hit list is chosen by the algorithmicweighting of factors chosen back at the software factory (word frequency,word location, proximity, date, "relevancy", link popularity, etc.). Themanually-constructed "best bets" approach informs the spider throughmonitoring and analysis of what users look for, so that the search resultslist can be "designed" with the same care and concern we give to the linkson a home page.

We will examine the distribution of unique search terms for a variety of Websites, demonstrating that the Zipf curve applies to virtually everyorganization. The audience should "take away" an understanding of how theycould implement a "Best Bets" approach of their own, of how a smallinvestment in labor and technology can yield great benefits, and why thosebenefits make a compelling case for action.

The presentation builds on analysis described in an article published inSearcher in October, 2002. For an online copy of the article, please see:http://infotoday.com/searcher/oct02/wiggins.htm . For a more completeversion of the article, including illustrations, please see:http://netfact.com/rww/write/searcher/rww-searcher-aug2002d.pdf .

How Will the Presentation Reflect The Theme of "Making Connections"?

This approach greatly enhances the process of making connections betweenusers and the content they seek. It also allows Web publishers to driveusers to preferred content for the most frequently-sought information. Itenables continuous balancing of user intention (what people want when theytype a keyword) with business goals (what the organization wants people tofind when they type a keyword). It allows for shift between push and pullto accommodate changes in the economy, market conditions, local and worldevents, competitive landscape, etc.

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