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Notes for "The Future of Search" talk

Jason D. Rowley
Jason D. Rowley
Jason D. RowleyWears lots of hats.

These are the notes I used to design and deliver the Future of Search talk.

Notes for "The Future of Search" talk

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Download to read offline
Slide 1
Slide Content: [Image of Magnifying Glass]
My talking points:
● Hi there
● This talk has three broad “movements”
○ Organizing principles of Search UX
○ Challenges facing Search
○ 2 possible ways forward: Google’s Knowledge Graph &
Microsoft Cortana
Slide 2
Slide Content: Organizing principles
My talking points:
● General IxD principle: Reducing “interactional friction” between
the user and the thing being used.
● In search, the guiding principle is connecting a user with an
intent to an action.
Slide 3
Slide Content: [Images of specialized search queries]
My talking points:
● Google is designed to reduce this interactional friction by
giving me actionable results.
● Example: searching for “Flights from Chicago to New York” returns
a little module through which I can book my flights
● Searching “UChicago to Billy Sunday” returns transit directions
from UChicago to my favorite swanky cocktail bar
Slide 4
Slide Content: “The Billy Sunday Problem”
My talking points:
● What if I wanted to learn more about the baseball player turned
evangelical preacher who vociferously argued against consuming
alcohol?
● Simply typing “Billy Sunday” into the search bar gives me a
hodgepodge of results, mostly favoring the bar.
● Google is returning what it thinks is most relevant to me. Given
my love of swanky cocktail bars, they’d likely be right, but not
in this case.
● This conflict is illustrative of a major problem facing search
today.
Slide 5
Slide Content: Strings
My talking points:
● Strictly string-based search analyzes the concordance between a
given search query and an index of content gathered on the web.
Slide 6
Slide Content: [More problems with Strings]
My talking points:
● This approach left users with one of two choices:
○ Parse through the mixed results to find the contextually
correct information
○ Append the query with modifiers, like “Billy Sunday
preacher”
○ Both of these approaches violate the rule of reducing
friction.
Slide 7
Slide Content: Things > Strings
My talking points:
● Paradigm shift in web platforms from strings to things
● Network analysis and Structured data is the new reigning
framework for understanding information on the web
Slide 8
Slide Content: Unpacking the Knowledge Graph
My talking points:
● is Google’s attempt to mimic the way humans structure information
● We think in terms of things, not strings.
● Knowledge Graph is a more “humane” way of understanding
information.
Slide 9
Slide Content: Back to Billy Sunday
My talking points:
● The string based approach returns many kinds of results for the
query “Billy Sunday”
● “Billy Sunday” belongs to many different sets.
● The set of ‘Swanky Chicago bars’ and set of ‘Temperance
preachers’
Slide 10
Slide Content: Sussing Out Structure from Unstructured Data
My talking points:
● Google is attempting to divine from unstructured text structured
relationships between entities.
● This allows Google to deliver users more relevant search results
● At least in theory
Slide 11
Slide Content: Attacking the Context Problem
My talking points:
● We now see how Google is attempting to address the context
problem by implementing the semantic Knowledge Graph
● But there’s another problem looming on the horizon: search as we
know it is changing
Slide 12
Slide Content: Search in a Multiplatform Ecosystem
My talking points:
● What does a search experience look like across 2-5 screens in
simultaneous use?
● What happens when the keyboard shrinks or disappears?
● People’s search behavior is different on mobile
● Mobile platforms which rely on search as their core interface
mechanism are often dead on arrival
Slide 13
Slide Content: Search as a Background Process
My talking points:
● Search is morphing from an active behavior to a background
process that surfaces information when it’s most pertinent
● This information is delivered in “cards” and mobile push
notifications, not a set of links
Slide 14
Slide Content: Structured Data & Mobile Devices as a Substrate for
Intelligence
My talking points:
● This new mode of search interaction is enabled by two factors:
○ Use of structured data (like calendar events with locations)
built atop existing information infra
○ Mobile devices which stream location data
● Shifts search from reactive to anticipatory, from an active
process to a passive one
Slide 15
Slide Content: The use of structured data
My talking points:
● Search engines use structured data and metadata to deliver
contextually relevant, highly actionable results
● Examples include Google’s Flights and Directions results.
● New platform like Facebook were built on incredibly well-
structured data from the start, which gives them a potential
search advantage in the future
Slide 16
Slide Content: Delivering on ambient location awareness
My talking points:
● Passive streaming of your location will help search engines
better infer intent.
● For example, the swanky cocktail bar may show up as the top
result for searches made in Chicago, but the preacher may be the
top result in Ames, IA where he was born
Slide 17
Slide Content: Implementation in Google Now and Microsoft Cortana
My talking points:
● “In platforms like Microsoft Cortana and Google Now, information
is surfaced based not on a change in keyword, but a change in
state.” - Stefan Weitz (link)
● Quick example: I receive notifications for when to leave my house
based on the location of my calendar events and Google’s
persistent traffic updates.
Slide 18
Slide Content: The evolving interface of search
My talking points:
● As the kinds of devices we use changes, new input methods are
required
● Voice-to-text is an increasingly popular way of performing
queries, but it carries some problems with accuracy and
computability
● Image and gesture-based search are other possibilities for the
future
Slide 19
Slide Content: Search as conversational interface with future AI
systems [USE ‘HER’ POSTER]
My talking points:
● The chat window may replace the search box
● We see this happening at small scale with narrowly scoped AI
systems like my friend’s company, DigitalGenius
● And with human-powered digital assistants and concierge services
like Magic.
Slide 20
Slide Content: The pervasive nature of Search technologies
My talking points:
● Search applications have migrated from our desks, onto our laps,
into our pockets, onto our wrists and now our faces with
platforms like Google Glass.
● Direct neuronal interface is without question on the horizon, but
the timeline is uncertain.
● What happens when we have frictionless total informational
awareness?
● Is it a good or bad thing that we’re outsourcing so much of our
cognitive function to search companies?

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Notes for "The Future of Search" talk

  • 1. Slide 1 Slide Content: [Image of Magnifying Glass] My talking points: ● Hi there ● This talk has three broad “movements” ○ Organizing principles of Search UX ○ Challenges facing Search ○ 2 possible ways forward: Google’s Knowledge Graph & Microsoft Cortana Slide 2 Slide Content: Organizing principles My talking points: ● General IxD principle: Reducing “interactional friction” between the user and the thing being used. ● In search, the guiding principle is connecting a user with an intent to an action. Slide 3 Slide Content: [Images of specialized search queries] My talking points: ● Google is designed to reduce this interactional friction by giving me actionable results. ● Example: searching for “Flights from Chicago to New York” returns a little module through which I can book my flights ● Searching “UChicago to Billy Sunday” returns transit directions from UChicago to my favorite swanky cocktail bar Slide 4 Slide Content: “The Billy Sunday Problem” My talking points: ● What if I wanted to learn more about the baseball player turned evangelical preacher who vociferously argued against consuming alcohol? ● Simply typing “Billy Sunday” into the search bar gives me a hodgepodge of results, mostly favoring the bar. ● Google is returning what it thinks is most relevant to me. Given my love of swanky cocktail bars, they’d likely be right, but not in this case.
  • 2. ● This conflict is illustrative of a major problem facing search today. Slide 5 Slide Content: Strings My talking points: ● Strictly string-based search analyzes the concordance between a given search query and an index of content gathered on the web. Slide 6 Slide Content: [More problems with Strings] My talking points: ● This approach left users with one of two choices: ○ Parse through the mixed results to find the contextually correct information ○ Append the query with modifiers, like “Billy Sunday preacher” ○ Both of these approaches violate the rule of reducing friction. Slide 7 Slide Content: Things > Strings My talking points: ● Paradigm shift in web platforms from strings to things ● Network analysis and Structured data is the new reigning framework for understanding information on the web Slide 8 Slide Content: Unpacking the Knowledge Graph My talking points: ● is Google’s attempt to mimic the way humans structure information ● We think in terms of things, not strings. ● Knowledge Graph is a more “humane” way of understanding information. Slide 9 Slide Content: Back to Billy Sunday My talking points: ● The string based approach returns many kinds of results for the query “Billy Sunday” ● “Billy Sunday” belongs to many different sets.
  • 3. ● The set of ‘Swanky Chicago bars’ and set of ‘Temperance preachers’ Slide 10 Slide Content: Sussing Out Structure from Unstructured Data My talking points: ● Google is attempting to divine from unstructured text structured relationships between entities. ● This allows Google to deliver users more relevant search results ● At least in theory Slide 11 Slide Content: Attacking the Context Problem My talking points: ● We now see how Google is attempting to address the context problem by implementing the semantic Knowledge Graph ● But there’s another problem looming on the horizon: search as we know it is changing Slide 12 Slide Content: Search in a Multiplatform Ecosystem My talking points: ● What does a search experience look like across 2-5 screens in simultaneous use? ● What happens when the keyboard shrinks or disappears? ● People’s search behavior is different on mobile ● Mobile platforms which rely on search as their core interface mechanism are often dead on arrival Slide 13 Slide Content: Search as a Background Process My talking points: ● Search is morphing from an active behavior to a background process that surfaces information when it’s most pertinent ● This information is delivered in “cards” and mobile push notifications, not a set of links Slide 14 Slide Content: Structured Data & Mobile Devices as a Substrate for Intelligence My talking points:
  • 4. ● This new mode of search interaction is enabled by two factors: ○ Use of structured data (like calendar events with locations) built atop existing information infra ○ Mobile devices which stream location data ● Shifts search from reactive to anticipatory, from an active process to a passive one Slide 15 Slide Content: The use of structured data My talking points: ● Search engines use structured data and metadata to deliver contextually relevant, highly actionable results ● Examples include Google’s Flights and Directions results. ● New platform like Facebook were built on incredibly well- structured data from the start, which gives them a potential search advantage in the future Slide 16 Slide Content: Delivering on ambient location awareness My talking points: ● Passive streaming of your location will help search engines better infer intent. ● For example, the swanky cocktail bar may show up as the top result for searches made in Chicago, but the preacher may be the top result in Ames, IA where he was born Slide 17 Slide Content: Implementation in Google Now and Microsoft Cortana My talking points: ● “In platforms like Microsoft Cortana and Google Now, information is surfaced based not on a change in keyword, but a change in state.” - Stefan Weitz (link) ● Quick example: I receive notifications for when to leave my house based on the location of my calendar events and Google’s persistent traffic updates. Slide 18 Slide Content: The evolving interface of search My talking points:
  • 5. ● As the kinds of devices we use changes, new input methods are required ● Voice-to-text is an increasingly popular way of performing queries, but it carries some problems with accuracy and computability ● Image and gesture-based search are other possibilities for the future Slide 19 Slide Content: Search as conversational interface with future AI systems [USE ‘HER’ POSTER] My talking points: ● The chat window may replace the search box ● We see this happening at small scale with narrowly scoped AI systems like my friend’s company, DigitalGenius ● And with human-powered digital assistants and concierge services like Magic. Slide 20 Slide Content: The pervasive nature of Search technologies My talking points: ● Search applications have migrated from our desks, onto our laps, into our pockets, onto our wrists and now our faces with platforms like Google Glass. ● Direct neuronal interface is without question on the horizon, but the timeline is uncertain. ● What happens when we have frictionless total informational awareness? ● Is it a good or bad thing that we’re outsourcing so much of our cognitive function to search companies?