Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Genre Searching

At today's SLAIS colloquium, Dr. Luanne Freund gave a presentation on Genre Searching: A Pragmatic Approach to Information Retrieval. Freund argues for taking a pragmatics approach in genre searching and genre classification. But there are two perspectives of pragmatics: socio-pragmatic and cognitive-pragmatic. Using a case study, a high-tech firm, Freund and her colleagues built a unique search engine called X-Cite, which culls together documents from the corporate intranet (which include anything from FAQ's to specialize manuals) with tags. In ranking documents based on title, abstract, and keywords as part of the search engine, the algorithm uniquely cuts down on the ambiguity and guesswork of searching. Using a software engineering workplace domain as its starting point, Freund believes that genre searching has the potential to make a significant contribution to the effectiveness of workplace search systems, by incorporating genre weights into the ranking algorithm.

In genre analysis, three steps must be taken:

(1) Identify - The core genre repertoire of the work domain

(2) Develop - A standard taxonomy to represent it

(3) Develop - Operational definitions of the genre classes in the taxonomy, including identifying features in terms of form, function and content to facilitate manual and automatic genre classification.

Throughout the entire presentation, my mind kept returning to the question: is this not another specialized form of social searching? A tailorized search engine which narrows its search to a specific genre? Although the two are entirely different things, I keep thinking that creating your own search engine is certainly much easier.

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