Thursday, February 10, 2005

Search engines and ....

The Scientific American article Seeking Better Web Searches mentions an interesting search engine found at The engine uses what are called "clustering techniques" and the clusters are presented in the form of visual subcategories (nodes around a central core), that can be used to further refine the search. Though I don't think the clustering idea is new, the presentation of the results is possibly useful.

The article talks about different engines and the various methods they use along with speculations about the future directions and needs of individuals for different types of searches. The idea that customized searches using a profile of the user that tracks her/his interests, behavior and interaction with common applications, concerns me from a privacy standpoint. "As a person opens, reads, plays, views, prints or shares documents, engines could track his or her activities and employ them to guide searches of particular subjects. This process resembles the implicit search function developed by Microsoft. PowerScout and Watson are the first systems introduced capable of integrating searches with user-interest profiles generated from indirect sources."

It sounds like something that could work well, but subject to lots of potential privacy bleeding and ultimate nefarious uses by persons and entities unknown.

Last night I was attempting to find something that mentioned amount of or ability to play and correlations with the amount or degree of intelligence in mammals- something that is stuck in my head having been theorized- but I can't find any mention. Using Google, I tried different terms, syntax, etc. etc. and either it was too late for me to figure out the correct search terms or there are no studies or serious statements.. I am inclined to believe that it was my error. Using the Mooter search engine (and after some sleep), I begin to come closer, but still no joy. I am reminded of a quote in my files: "I want to know what good is a Web search engine that returns 324,909,188 "matches" to my keyword. That's like saying, "Good news, we've located the product you want. It's on Earth."

Perhaps the whole premise of my search is bogus; maybe labeling what the dolphins were doing with the silver rings as "play" is part of the problem. Possibly it would be better to label the activity as creative, not essential to survival behavior.

When will we figure out their language so that we can ask them specifically what it might be?

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