What's more important when looking for information in the digital age-the people or the information to which you have access? IBM Haifa's recent Search and Collaboration seminar tried to answer that query recently by examining these two sides of the knowledge puzzle.
Organized by the Search and Collaboration Department of the IBM Haifa Research Lab, the S&C seminar attracted an overflow crowd to the auditorium of the IBM Research facility on the University of Haifa campus on February 16. IT professionals from leading firms including Comverse, Intel, and Clearforest, together with professors and students from Israel's leading universities, gathered to hear lectures addressing such topics as data mining, enterprise search engines, and virtual communities.
Several of the presentations focused on the extensive activities of the Haifa Research Lab. IBM Haifa lecturers presented work being done in high-quality information retrieval, advanced research in Internet content-mining (such as geo-tagging documents), and methodologies for evaluating the quality of search engines. Other Haifa-based technologies discussed at the conference were the Juru Java search engine (the embedded search in the new IBM Lotus offerings), and ReachOut, the IBM Haifa community building and collaboration tool.
The seminar placed a direct focus on the integration of search and collaboration issues in the corporate setting, noted Vova Soroka, a researcher in IBM Haifa's Collaboration Technologies Group and one of the seminar's organizers. "Knowledge discovery is growing more and more important," noted Soroka. "The co-enablement of data search and information sharing is an area that is really heating up-we believe it's the future of knowledge management." In this spirit, Natalia Marmasse from the MIT Media Lab presented groundbreaking research in using sensors for new awareness applications in her "WatchMe" revolutionary wristwatch.
The highlight of the seminar was the keynote lecture delivered by Amit Singhal, Principal Scientist at Google, who made the trip from the Silicon Valley for this event. Google, unquestionably the most popular Internet search engine in the world, operates in a world of "adversarial information retrieval," Singhal explained, with heavy competition for search result placements.
Singhal also spent some time with the Haifa researchers before and after the seminar learning about the work being done by Haifa's search and collaboration research teams. He met with members of the department, and participated in a number of roundtable discussions about search engines and data mining technology.
"Amit was very impressed with the quality of the work we are doing here in Haifa," noted Aya Soffer, manager of the Search Technologies Department in the Haifa Labs. "He was particularly struck by the number of researchers we have working in the field and the balance between research and development in Haifa. His lecture at the seminar was key to the event's success."
The IBM Haifa S&C seminar is an annual event designed to bring together Israeli search and collaboration players for a day of study, exchange, and networking. Presentations from the seminar are available for viewing from the seminar website, http://www.haifa.il.ibm.com/Workshops/searchandcollaboration2004/agenda.html.