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The dumbing down of intelligent search


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My keynote address at the Enterprise Search Summit 2011 in New York. Over the past 15 years, search got smart and we got lazy. Today, few remember what a Boolean operator is, much less hot to use one. But who really cares? When a search engine vomits thousands of results to any inane query we make, misspell, or misquote, we pat ourselves on the back for a job well done. And if we don't like these results, well, it's the search engine's fault. Perhaps we'd better create som intelligent searchers instead. It is time that we bring search users' experience expectation together with tools that will actually help them search smarter to deliver a truly intelligent search experience.

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The dumbing down of intelligent search

  1. 1. The dumbing down of intelligent search Eric Reiss @elreiss Enterprise Search May 10, 2011 New York, NY
  2. 2. Waddaya mean? Who’s dumb? The dumbing down of intelligent search”Smart Search” you jerk!We’re gonna nail Eric Reiss @elreissyou on Twitter! Enterprise Search May 10, 2011 New York, NYWhat’s this stupid sign all about?
  3. 3. Screw the app… solve the problem!
  4. 4. Three quotes…
  5. 5. A philosophy“If people can’t figure out how to use your search engine, maybe you need a search engine that’s figured out how people think.”
  6. 6. A metaphor“Search engines are the receptionists of cyberspace – and like the real world, there are good ones and bad ones.”
  7. 7. A statistic“Are visitors getting as much out of your site as you put into it? According to industry analysts, probably not – a third will leave before they find what they came to get. So much for ‘return on investment.’”
  8. 8. Let’s continue on an upbeat note...
  9. 9. The Death of George Boole 1815 - 1864
  10. 10. Three quotes…
  11. 11. Sept. 1998
  12. 12. A timeline… ‘91 ‘93 ‘95 ‘98 2011 You areGopher here MondoSearch Mosaic brochure Yahoo! Google
  13. 13. Just sayin’… #1Maybe it’s time we started singinga different song…It’s not that what we say is wrong,it’s just not working. We need toteach by example.
  14. 14. The three faces of enterprise search
  15. 15. Algorithm Implementation Use
  16. 16. OH “It must be true. It was on Google.”
  17. 17. Just sayin’… #2People learn skills in one environmentthat they expect to be able to use inother, similar environments.
  18. 18. But even Google doesn’t always get it right…
  19. 19. “No battle plan can survive contact with the enemy” Helmuth Graf von Moltke – 1800-1891
  20. 20. algorithms
  21. 21. The joys ofenterprise searchWe control the environmentWe can move beyond pattern matchingWe can create custom-tailored UX
  22. 22. Don’t ignore that man behind the curtain We make the magic. No one else.
  23. 23. Just sayin’… #3The fatal flaw is to ignore thespirit of the task.
  24. 24. People TechnologiesProcesses
  25. 25. Well… If only the damned content providerswould supply us with meta-descriptions…
  26. 26. Ah! Ultimately…it must be the fault of those idiot users…
  27. 27. “The problem with making things foolproof is that fools are so damned ingenious!” Laurence J. Peter – 1919-1990
  28. 28. What the search test subject says:“I’m looking for a pair of red, patent-leather, peep-toe pumps with a medium heel and a strap.”
  29. 29. What the search test subject types: red shoes
  30. 30. Just sayin’… #4If you can do something on Google,but you can’t do the same thing onyour own site, find out why and fix it.This is a business imperative if yourely on benefits from the long tail.
  31. 31. Just sayin’…#5Any idiot can enable bad behavior.The trick is to encourage good behavior.This is the difference betweenmere “design” and “good design”.
  32. 32. Just sayin’…#6Too many enterprise search enginesare still configured by engineers.But this only works if your dev teamunderstands the language of yourbusiness. Do they?
  33. 33. Algorithm Implementation Use
  34. 34. The French built this… …without power tools!
  35. 35. Just sayin’…#7A good craftsman never blames his tools.A sharp knife will help a master chef dohis job better. But buying a sharp knifewill not make you a master chef.
  36. 36. Some thoughts for algorithm-builders Until you learn to read minds, there will be no magic bullet Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should Hey CMS folks – make it easier to add metadata! Singing the praises of technology is not going to get businesses to sit up and take notice.
  37. 37. Some thoughts for implementers If you don’t understand the business, you shouldn’t be tampering with search Content providers need to understand search (so what else is new?) Matching patterns isn’t matching needs You control the environment. Use this power to truly enhance the experience. This is hard-core UX!
  38. 38. Some thoughts for users Garbage in, garbage out “Error 40” Be critical. Demand quality. Speak up. Don’t be afraid to experiment. You can’t break a search engine. Learn some basic search techniques Use phrases Use multiple words Write query as an answer rather than a question
  39. 39. Five questions
  40. 40. What’s the date of Lincoln’s Gettysburg address?What’s the key ingredient in bearnaise sauce?What’s the most fuel-efficient car in the world?When did Daniel Defoe write “Moll Flanders”?How many stripes does a zebra have?
  41. 41. Your mission, Mr. Phelps… Stop making excuses for bad search Go to your kid’s school and teach the class about search Has anybody bothered to build the business case for search in your company? Don’t wait for someone else to do the heavy lifting! You’re here in NYC at Enterprise Search. You ARE the vanguard!
  42. 42. Don’t just prevent bad things from happening…Please, make wonderful things happen!
  43. 43. Thank you!
  44. 44. Eric Reiss can (usually) be found at:The FatDUX Group ApSStrandøre 152100 CopenhagenDenmarkOffice: (+45) 39 29 67 77Mobil: (+45) 20 12 88 44Twitter: