Some(What) Grand Challenges for Information Retrieval
Although we see the positive results of information retrieval research embodied throughout the Internet, on our computer desktops, and in many other aspects of daily life, at the same time we notice that people still have a wide variety of difficulties in finding information that is useful in resolving their problematic situations. This suggests that there still remain substantial challenges for research in IR. Already in 1988, on the occasion of receiving the ACM SIGIR Gerard Salton Award, Karen Spärck Jones suggested that substantial progress in information retrieval was likely only to come through addressing issues associated with users (actual or potential) of IR systems, rather than continuing IR research’s almost exclusive focus on document representation and matching and ranking techniques. In recent years it appears that her message has begun to be heard, yet we still have relatively few substantive results that respond to it. In this talk, I identify a few challenges for IR research which fall within the scope of association with users, and which I believe, if properly addressed, are likely to lead to substantial increases in the usefulness, usability and pleasurability of information retrieval.