Alternative Search Technologies – Too Good to be True

It seems that alternative search technologies (alternative to the familiar Keyword and Boolean searches) touted by Vendors are considered as ‘too good to be true’. Check it out yourself at In Search of Better E-Discovery Methods By H. Christopher Boehning and Daniel J. Toal, New York Law Journal April 23, 2008

The above legal article also mentioned the Text Retrieval Conference (TREC) 2006 study which was also examined by Will Uppington in the article, Better Search for E-Discovery, March 11th, 2008

What I find interesting in Will Uppington’s article is the finding; ‘One of the best ways to get better search queries is to commit human resources to improving them, by putting a “human-in-the-loop” while performing searches’.

Reading in between these two ‘search themed’ titles, one from the legal side and the other from a technical perspective, highlighted the contrasting findings and interpretation on the TREC 2006 study

What else can we say/talk about the ‘human-in-the loop’, the ‘virtuous cycle of iterative feedback’ & “interactive” search methodology?

Well such phrases/concepts are not new. What is new is that the ‘human actions’ aspects are creeping (awareness?) into the ediscovery space. Other knowledge researchers outside the ediscovery domain have been busily coming up with phrases/concepts such as the ‘concept searching’ methodologies. Reality (or inertia adoption) testing of such newer technologies are clearly not well understood (too good to be true?) by the courts and practitioners.

On human actions and computer programs, a beautiful quote comes from my friend, Roger C: “While computer programs can write other computer programs, they can’t write the first program”.

To that I will add: An expert is only effective in the human-in-the-loop search if the expert is also an expert in the codes

One Comment

  1. Posted May 17, 2008 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    A comment by Mr Charles Skamser (another Fire Rooster :-) on my post.

    Check it out at

    Thanks Mr Skamser.

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