Thursday, February 19, 2004

Google Won

Search For Tomorrow ""For a lot of kids today, the world started in 1996," says librarian and author Gary Price.

And yet Berkeley professor Peter Lyman points out that traditional sources of information, such as textbooks, are heavily filtered by committees, and are full of "compromised information." He's not so sure that the robotic Web crawlers give results any worse than those from more traditional sources. "There's been a culture war between librarians and computer scientists," Lyman says.

And the war is over, he adds.

"Google won.""

""A generation ago, reference librarians -- flesh-and-blood creatures -- were the most powerful search engines on the planet. But the rise of robotic search engines in the mid-1990s has removed the human mediators between researchers and information. Librarians are not so sure they approve. Much of the material on the World Wide Web is wrong, or crazy, or of questionable provenance, or simply out of date (odd to say this about a new technology, but the Web is full of stale information).

"How do you authenticate what you're looking at? How do you know this isn't some kind of fly-by-night operation that's put up this Web site?" asks librarian Patricia Wand of American University.""

""He needs one that knows that he's a big-brain tech guru and not an eighth-grader with a paper due.

"The field is called user modeling," says Dan Gruhl of IBM. "It's all about computers watching interactions with people to try to understand their interests and something about them."

Imagine a version of Google that's got a bit of TiVo in it: It doesn't require you to pose a query. It already knows! It's one step ahead of you. It has learned your habits and thought processes and interests. It's your secretary, your colleague, your counselor, your own graduate student doing research for which you'll get all the credit.

To put it in computer terminology, it is your intelligent agent.""
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