Searching Time

Last week I posted something on Educating Time. Of course one of my particular interests is information seeking and there to, temporality in search is a really interesting issue.

Searching for Temporal Information

Time is of course a crucial element of evaluation for some claims (e.g. the number of women who have won a nobel prize changes over time). Equally though, it is not terribly sophisticated to hold all claims as unstable (e.g. the number of women who had won a nobel prize by 2013 will not change). The ways that users evaluate temporality, and search engines a) present temporal information and b) use it to index and rank claims is fascinating. Think, for example, of the different temporal needs of crisis management situations (a balance of immediacy and credibility in foregrounding recent info) versus relatively stable claims (some historical accounts, searches for specific information or theories, etc.).

Quantifying Search (& Slow Search)

There’s something else interesting around quantification of search, for example search engines (and websites) give figures about number of hits or searches made.  Google Trends/Insights gives info on query quantification over time, so we can see that particular queries were made more at particular times; they use this to give us the Google Zeitgeist, the spirit of the time.

But there are other ways of quantifying search that involve how long people spent looking for information – did they engage in a quick search (factual retrieval?) or did they spend rather a long time. The latter can indicate ‘lostness’ or at least a difficulty in finding information. But it can also indicate the seeking (and assimilation of) more complex information.

Jamie Teevan’s work

Basically if you’re interested in any of this, you should read Jamie Teevan’s work & I particularly like the term “slow search” to describe the kind of searching above, where (her description) “the quality of the experience – not the speed – is what matters”. This focus on speed really matters because currently search engines build speed (qua fastness) into their algorithms (and speed matters for good reasons).

Sequencing Search

I discussed a combination of the previous point, and the notion of sequence a while ago, when I talked about how we ‘cluster’ queries under a particular information need. Of course, in wider scope, we might be interested not only in the use of temporal information to cluster queries, but also how those queries (and results) relate to each other. That is, we might be interested in how query ‘a’ (“What is a plantain?”) leads to query ‘b’ (“Plantain recipes”), and the types of knowledge building activities (or, misconceptions) undertaken through a sequencing of query-navigation-query-navigation, etc.

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  1. Simon Knight says:

    Date: Mon, 19 May 2014 17:43:25 +0100
    From: Ricardo Campos
    Subject: CfP: Special issue on Time and Information Retrieval


    A special issue of Information Processing and Management

    We invite submissions for a special issue of Information Processing and Management on Time and Information Retrieval.

    ===== Motivation =====
    With the rapid growth of digitised document resources, both on and off the web, and increased variety in types of document collections, future search systems will face growing difficulties in providing reliable, useful, and timely results. The web already archives a lot of content; organizing and searching by time will only become more critical as we move forward.

    This issue aims to explore opportunities and novel research on the intersection of time and information retrieval. Unlike existing work that focuses exclusively on the interesting problems related to adding time to established methods of information retrieval (such as, e.g., how to incorporate temporal relevance in ranking of retrieved results), we aim to stimulate discussion on new or powerful uses of temporality in all kinds of information systems.

    ===== Scope & Topics of Interest =====
    We are particularly interested in work that describes novel advances on the intersection of temporality and IR. For example, work that goes deeper than metadata-level time (e.g. document creation timestamp), or that does temporal analysis of document collections for, e.g., event identification, tracking and prediction, or that works on temporal-based relevancy.

    We especially welcome papers on the following topics:
    * Time as a dimension of relevance
    – Time-aware ranking models
    – Opinion tracking
    – Media temporal similarity (e.g. text, video)
    – Longitudinal analysis
    – Document and sub-document timestamping

    * Time as context
    – Time-sensitive search
    – Searching for temporal bounds
    – Future Information Retrieval
    * Time as a query topic
    – Event-oriented Search
    – Temporal web image and video retrieval
    – Temporal clustering
    – Collective memory and web archiving
    – Cross-temporal information retrieval
    * General issues
    – In-document temporality
    – Temporal query understanding
    – Temporal indexing
    – Evaluation metrics for temporal IR

    ===== Important dates =====
    CFP: April 3, 2014
    Manuscript due date: September 8th 2014
    Acceptance Notification Date: December 2nd 2014 Final Manuscript Due Date:
    Jan 30th, 2015 (for all revisions) Publication date: Spring 2015

    Substantial, creative, articles are welcomed, according to the journal format. After submission, we envisage a smooth and on-time progression through review and toward publication of this special issue.

    Contributions must not have been previously published or be under consideration for publication elsewhere, although substantial extensions of conference or workshop papers will be considered. All submissions should be prepared according to the Guide for Authors at

    Submissions should be made through EES at

    ===== Guest Editors =====
    Leon Derczynski, University of Sheffield Jannik Strötgen, Heidelberg University Ricardo Campos, Polytechnic Institute of Tomar / LIAAD-INESC TEC Omar Alonso, Microsoft Corporation

    ===== Note on open access policy =====
    Posting of author accepted manuscripts IS PERMITTED on author websites, uploaded to arXiv, etc., as stated in the publisher’s open access policies.
    See also:


    Ricardo Campos

    Assistant Professor – ICT Department

    Polytechnic Institute of Tomar, Portugal


    LIADD – INESC TEC at University of Porto, Portugal

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