Social Discovery: Algorithmic Search with a Human Touch

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2008-01-21 Print this article Print

Another application, Social Discovery, is IBM's internal iteration of social search, an increasingly popular method of giving algorithmic search a human touch.

Social Discovery is a search application that returns not only documents, but people related to a topic from the company's internal Blog Central application, any IBM Dogear tags associated with the theme, as well as user recommendations. Results gauge users' interests, user feedback about documents and the popularity of documents.

"First we add all the tags and bookmarked content to the document so that you will be able to find something by the words the user used, and we also take into consideration all of the activity around these documents," said Shila Ofek-Koifman, a manager in the information retrieval group for IBM's Research Lab in Haifa, Israel. Ofek-Koifman said Beehive is not currently a source Social Discovery can tap, but is a possibility for IBM in the future.

Also on the agenda for IBM:

- Chat Search, the ability to search instant messaging records. The technology scours Lotus SameTime messages from keywords, and will eventually let users find instant message records down to the minute.

- Project Jumbo aims to assist people with disabilities trying to communicate with colleagues.

Ira Forman, senior software engineer for IBM Research, has created Project Jumbo, an automated speech recognition software plug-in to help deaf people use Lotus Sametime by speaking into a transmitter. In a demo, Forman asked a computer program questions by speaking into a headset. Within three to five seconds, the program returned typed answers.

- Real-time Translation, created by David Brigida, executive project manager for IBM, translates text or speech in Lotus Sametime into nine other languages, including Spanish, Japanese, Korean and Mandarin.

The projects IBM researchers introduced do not currently have timelines to become products. Most of them are running on different schedules, and engineers could not comment on timelines for making the research a reality.


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