Organizing social tags into hierarchies

Social tags like those used by Flickr or Delicious are interesting in that they allow people to categorize their own efforts (and those of others) and share material based upon those classifications.

But, the result of tagging can be a pretty flat list of many categories. There is a usefulness to a hierarchical ordering of information that enables people to browse and scroll down through categories. It can make it easier for people to find the information that they may be looking for.

A Ph.D. student from Stanford, Paul Heymann, has been working with Professor Hector Garcia-Molina to find a way to build Tag Hierarchies to make the efforts of tagging more useful. He notes that:

Tagging systems are excellent at the task that they were designed for—allowing a large, disparate group of users to collaboratively label massive, dynamic information systems like the web, media collections of millions of images, and so on. We are working to make these systems better by automating production of hierarchical taxonomies that describe the data from the raw flat tags generated by users.

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Yahoo patents load balancing, my computer breaks

I ran out this morning, and bought a new computer. The old one died on me yesterday.

It’s a good thing for external hard drives. I would have been pretty upset if I had lost all of the data on the old computer.

I did have to do a lot of updating and installation of software, and it might have been time to get a new computer anyway. I might have to pay more attention to how Yahoo handles their computers.

(Will be back to semi-regular posting as soon as I do a little catching up.)

In the meantime, I had a few minutes to take a look at the US patent office tonight. Yahoo! was granted a patent today on a filing from 1999 on coordinating information between multple servers that share information, and also on servers that may cache some of that information.

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25 links on Search and Design

Fun with graphs

This graph comparing Judas vs. Da Vinci is very interesting. I also enjoy the other graphs over at the data mining blog. This one uses data from blogpulse to see the reactions to the release of the National Geographic article on The Gospel of Judas compared to interest in The Da Vinci Code .


The International Symbol for Man Tells All
Thoroughly enjoyed this Design Observer article, in which an icon is asked questions about what it’s like to stand for everyone.

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A Look at Google Midpage Query Refinements

In early April, Googleguy posted at the Search Engine Watch Forums, and his post was split off into a thread titled Google Confirms Mid-Page “See Results For” Section No Longer A Test; Suggest A Name!.

In his post, he tells us that:

In fact, this is no longer a test. We do this when we see a query (e.g. [katrina] or something similar) that we think might benefit from a refinement, (e.g. maybe you wanted to search for [hurricane katrina]).

If you haven’t seen the additional query results in question, they are links for some alternative suggested search terms, appearing in the middle of the top ten results that Google returns.

Those alternative suggestions had been referred to as user interface (UI) experiments, along with a number of other different ways of presenting Google results.

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Joining Search Engine Watch as a correspondent on patents

I remember back in 1997 when a friend of mine sent me a link to a site started by Danny Sullivan, named Search Engine Watch.

We were just getting our hands and minds wrapped around promoting a site on the web, and learning as much as we could about how the web worked, and about how to run a business online. It was exciting to see Danny’s post at the Search Engine Watch Blog yesterday on My Decade Of Writing About Search Engines, and it brought back some memories of resources like his “A Webmaster’s Guide To Search Engines” that helped tremendously.

We had launched a site in 1996, and tried to learn and implement something new almost everyday. It’s ten years later, and I’m still excited about learning new things about the web, and marketing, and online promotion.

I’ve also tried to share some of what I’ve been learning as an administrator at Cre8asite Forums, and I discovered early on there that the conversations that evolve out of sharing ideas and information with others can be richly rewarding, and lead to friendships, career changes, and a deep satisfaction in finding something that you love to do.

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Google’s adaptive pagerank patent

Google was granted a new patent involving pagerank last week, which appears to focus upon a paper from April of 2003, Adaptive Methods for the Computation of PageRank.

The paper does a nice job of describing what they were aiming at with this patent – a faster way of assigning query-independent rankings of value to pages on the web, based upon links to those pages. This work doesn’t aim at changing rankings, or determinations of relevance of web pages, but is instead aimed at making the computational elements of calculating rankings cheaper and faster.

While the methods and processes described in the patent aren’t really anything new, it’s interesting to see how the ideas in the paper can be implemented as part of a search engine. The patent provides a nice overview of how a search engine functions, covering topics such as crawling, filtering, indexing, index partitioning, caching, mapping links, and serving pages.

It then dives into the method they have devised to take advantage of the observation they made that some pages take less time, and less recalculations of pagerank to reach their final pagerank. As the authors note in the paper:

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SEO, PPC, and the US government

I was exploring the FirstGov web site from the US government, and their section on web content, and I wondered how much of our tax dollars are being spent on paid search. I remember seeing some paid ads by the DEA last summer, and the agency is still using Google Adwords.

On the page about search engines, the webmasters provide information to help people working on US government sites add site searches, and they also give a window into future additions on the site, including “Getting found on search engines (search engine optimization).”

I looked around to see if they had anything about paid advertising, and found some guidelines about advertising on government sites, but nothing about using paid search on search engines.

I’m tempted to volunteer some information and assistance on SEO, especially if it could help them to build a more balanced online advertising presence within Google and other search engines (and maybe reduce my tax bill).

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Dr. Qi Lu named Senior VP of Engineering for Search and Search Marketing for Yahoo!

(Added – June 20, 2008 – this post was orginally written on April 15, 2006, and describes the technical background of Dr. Lu as he became a Senior Vice President of Yahoo back then. Now, it might serve as an indication of some of the talent that Yahoo is losing after a number of executives, including Dr. Lu are leaving Yahoo )

A press release from Yahoo! earlier today noted that Dr. Qi Lu has been appointed as their new Senior Vice President of Engineering for Search and Search Marketing.

Dr. Lu has been active in a wide range of activities while at Yahoo!, including their search platform, and their social search activities. The press release notes that he has been involved in;

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