« Got Firefox? Get Toolbar. | Main | I Read The News Today, Oh Boy »

March 18, 2005

AJ, We Bring Good (Related) Things to Life

I just returned from speaking at the O'Reilly Emerging Tech Conference in San Diego, where the theme of the week was "Remix." Program Chair Rael Dornfest categorized remixing as, "everything changes when customers customize."


Photo originally uploaded by etech

MyJeeves, and like-minded services like Del.icio.us and MyYahoo Search, are good examples of the impact remixing will have on search. People will cull billions of Web pages into a personal Web index of hundreds or thousands of documents, tagged as they see fit to describe them. Add in your desktop docs, RSS feeds, Tivo'd shows, music playlists, etc., and you've got your own personal database of information, which you can enjoy at home, at work, at a friend's house, on a plane, or just waiting for a plane.

But that's still just "the future" for most people. Here and now, we observe that most people do not customize their searches very often. Instead, the average Web user's behavior is to head straight for the main search box and type in the first thing that comes to mind. Often times, the topic is too narrow, or too broad, or just not right in some way. Not surprisingly, then, between 30% and 50% of all searches are iterated upon with additional searches.

For that reason, we've always found our Related Topics feature to be extremely popular. Located on the right side of our results page, it gives you ideas to remix your original query with concepts that might work better. Some suggested topics let you zoom in and go deeper on the original topic. Zoom out, and you can explore new concepts that are similar to the original topic. So it’s both a query formulation and navigational tool at the same time.

Related Topics differs fundamentally from competing products because it's based on topic clustering, rather than text clustering. Like all social networks, the Web tends to cluster into "communities" of sites on given topics. Our Teoma search technology identifies these communities. Each community is related to other communities...some tightly, others loosely. Understanding the relationships between these communities enables us to understand the context of the topic, and thereby understand topics related to the user's query. This is how Related Topics is produced.

Check out some these example queries:
Beatles - You don't simply receive suggestions with the words "The Beatles", but also the 4 members of the Beatles, and even the Rolling Stones.
John Lennon – You do not simply receive suggestions with with term "John Lennon" in it, but also receive suggestions such as Paul, George and Ringo, and even the dreaded Yoko.
Red Sox - Beyond the obvious (Fenway Park, Johnny Damon), you get the Patriots, as well as the always popular "Yankees Suck" community.

In our presentation yesterday, we demonstrated some innovations we've been making in the area of community classification and clustering. One benefit will be enhanced Related Topics. We'll give you an update when it goes live in the next few weeks.

Rahul Lahiri, Search Product Management
PS: Speaking of Johnny Damon, please note the striking resemblance between Johnny and our very own Simon Mosk-Aoyama:

Johnny Damon  Simon

Posted by Ask.com Blog | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference AJ, We Bring Good (Related) Things to Life :


Simon won't really look like Damon until he goes for the Wolfman look.

Posted by: MUSCLE13 | Mar 28, 2005 1:46:06 PM

mmm... i think this site could be complemented with some info related to it, you can find more about it in google...

Posted by: Partition De Musique | Sep 6, 2005 8:40:15 PM

Great post, i found it very interesting

Posted by: April | Sep 7, 2005 1:28:47 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.

Opinions expressed here and in any corresponding comments are the personal opinions of the original authors, not of IAC Search & Media and may not have been reviewed in advance.

Blog Search from: Bloglines