Your Stimulus Dollars at Work: Tightening Up Search

Imagine a search engine that employs experiments to learn from you? The computer scientists at Cornell University have and they are using stimulus money (a four-year, $1 million grant) to improve search based on such experiments. The scientists are looking to develop search engine software that can read your queries and clicks, as well as subsequent query reformulations, in order to understand search methodology and what does and doesn’t work. The software developed from these efforts will be best used in specialized collections – the examples from the press release include scientific and legal collections and corporate intranets.

The search engine software will learn what works best by analyzing user data, almost as if by osmosis. The researchers already have developed the aptly-named Osmot and are looking to improve the process by tightening the experimental controls. More on Osmot at this link.

What does it all mean for you? Smarter search engines might yield faster and better results, but I still hesitate slightly at the thought of a machine’s judgment regarding what is and is not relevant substituting for my own. In any event, it will be interesting to see where this inqury leads and the ramifications for search.

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Using Your Voice To Search, With Dragon

Clearly, Nuance is not content to rest on its laurels with its somewhat controversial, but ultimately way cool, text-to-speech iPhone application. Apart from making Naturally Speaking available for iPod Touch and clearing up the contacts upload issue, Nuance has also just released a voice-driven search app called Dragon Search (App store link) that works across search engines. This distinguishes Dragon from Google and Bing, which only permit search on their own search engines, and Vlingo, which searches via Yahoo. It is a free application and employs a simple, easy-to-use interface. Both search engine selection and results appear on the same page.

Check it out, and let me know what you think!

Don't Tell Them, Show Them – Writing Rules

This list has been floating around for years. Nonetheless, I thought I would share it since it popped up again in my reader this morning and it always gives me a chuckle. Sometimes, the best way to make a point is to “show, don’t tell” (was that a cliche?) so here goes nothing:

Twenty-six “Golden” Rules for Writing Well

  1. Don’t abbrev.
     
  2. Check to see if you any words out.
     
  3. Be carefully to use adjectives and adverbs correct.
     
  4. About sentence fragments.
     
  5. When dangling, don’t use participles.
     
  6. Don’t use no double negatives.
     
  7. Each pronoun agrees with their antecedent.
     
  8. Just between you and I, case is important.
     
  9. Join clauses good, like a conjunction should.
     
  10. Don’t use commas, that aren’t necessary.
     
  11. Its important to use apostrophe’s right.
     
  12. It’s better not to unnecessarily split an infinitive.
     
  13. Never leave a transitive verb just lay there without an object.
     
  14. Only Proper Nouns should be capitalized. also a sentence should begin with a capital letter and end with a full stop
     
  15. Use hyphens in compound-words, not just in any two-word phrase.
     
  16. In letters compositions reports and things like that we use commas to keep a string of items apart.
     
  17. Watch out for irregular verbs that have creeped into our language.
     
  18. Verbs has to agree with their subjects.
     
  19. Avoid unnecessary redundancy.
     
  20. A writer mustn’t shift your point of view.
     
  21. Don’t write a run-on sentence you’ve got to punctuate it.
     
  22. A preposition isn’t a good thing to end a sentence with.
     
  23. Avoid cliches like the plague.
     
  24. 1 final thing is to never start a sentence with a number.
     
  25. Always check your work for accuracy and completeness.

Get it?

Hat tip to far too many people to list here.