User Annotations in Personalized Search

Yesterday, I wrote about Social Trustrank and User Annotations as Anchor Text. The ideas behind it seem worth investigating further, though when I look around Yahoo’s efforts to personalize search, and I find the My Web Beta (Now Yahoo Bookmarks), I’m left feeling a little disappointed.

There‘s a was a My Web Blog, but it doesn’t seem very active, and the last entry is was from October 5th. This version of My Web is 2.0, and the comments from the last blog entry note that accounts from version 1.0 have been migrated over to yahoo’s Bookmarks.

I see bookmarking and tagging as prominent parts of My Web 2.0, but no indication that user annotations are an active part of the program. This is a beta program, but I’m left wondering if it has been abandoned, or under a moratorium of no new development pending reorganization and review of its future. Maybe activity is quietly happening behind the scenes.

I’m going to just point to these older patent applications with this post, and focus upon breaking down the newer ones in a little more depth later this week. The concept of using annotations in a manner akin to anchor text, in ranking (or reranking) pages is interesting, but it does seem to be something that might work best for someone who may have similar interests to another searcher. One of the newer patent applications does examine that in more detail.

Here are the older patent applications that I mentioned yesterday:

Search systems and methods with integration of user annotations
Invented by Eckart Walther, Qi Lu, David Ku, Kevin Lee, Chung-Man Tam, and Ali Diab
Assigned to Yahoo
US Patent Application 20050234891
Published October 20, 2005
Filed March 15, 2005

Abstract

Computer systems and methods allow users to annotate content items found in a corpus such as the World Wide Web. Annotations, which can include any descriptive and/or evaluative metadata related to a document, are collected from a user and stored in association with that user. Users are able to annotate and view their annotations for any document they encounter while interacting with the corpus, including hits returned in a search of the corpus. Users are also able to search their annotations or to limit searches to documents they have annotated. Metadata from annotations can also be aggregated across users and aggregated metadata applied in generating search results.

Search systems and methods with integration of aggregate user annotations
Invented by Eckart Walther, Qi Lu, David Ku, Kevin Lee, Chung-Man Tam, Ali Diab
Assigned to Yahoo
US Patent Application 20050256867
Published November 17, 2005
Filed March 15, 2005

Abstract

Computer systems and methods allow users to annotate content items found in a corpus such as the World Wide Web. Annotations, which can include any descriptive and/or evaluative metadata related to a document, are collected from a user and stored in association with that user. Users are able to annotate and view their annotations for any document they encounter while interacting with the corpus, including hits returned in a search of the corpus. Users are also able to search their annotations or to limit searches to documents they have annotated. Metadata from annotations can also be aggregated across users and aggregated metadata applied in generating search results.

Search system and methods with integration of user annotations from a trust network
Invented by Qi Lu, Eckart Walther, David Ku, Chung-Man Tam, Kevin Lee, Zhichen Xu, Ali Diab, Kenneth Norton, and Jianchang Mao
Assigned to Yahoo
US Patent Application 20050256866
Published November 17, 2005
Filed March 15, 2005

Abstract

Computer systems and methods incorporate user annotations (metadata) regarding various pages or sites, including annotations by a querying user and by members of a trust network defined for the querying user into search and browsing of a corpus such as the World Wide Web. A trust network is defined for each user, and annotations by any member of a first user’s trust network are made visible to the first user during search and/or browsing of the corpus. Users can also limit searches to content annotated by members of their trust networks or by members of a community selected by the user.

Integration of personalized portals with web content syndication
Invented by Ali Diab, David Ku, Kevin Lee, Qi Lu, Eckart Walther, Benjamin Garrett, Scott A. Gatz, and Jason Douglas
Assigned to Yahoo
US Patent Application 20060230021
Published October 12, 2006
Filed March 15, 2005

Abstract

Personal portal pages for individual users are integrated with web content syndication. For example, when a search query is received from the user, a list of hits is generated. For each hit, it is determined whether there is an associated syndication feed, such as an RSS feed. The list of hits is displayed for the user, and a syndication option is included for each hit that has an associated syndication feed. The user can select the syndication option and thereby subscribe their personal portal page to that syndication feed. In some embodiments, the user may also be able to select syndication feeds for subscription via an alternative interface.

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