Stephen E. Arnold: Exploratory Search Trends Debated

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Stephen E. Arnold
Stephen E. Arnold

Exploratory Search Trends Debated

An article titled The Changing Face of Exploratory Search on Linkedin presents the current trends in search. Exploratory search is distinct from navigational search, the latter searcher-type knows what she is expecting to get in terms of results. An exploratory searcher might know the search criteria but not how many results will meet their criteria, if any. The article claims that while navigational search exploded in the last fifteen years, exploratory search is still nascent.

The trends highlighted in the article include:

1.) Entity-oriented search. Search has moved beyond words as mere strings of text and increasingly focuses on entities that represent people, places, organizations, and topics.

2.) Knowledge graphs. Search is starting to leverage the network of relationships among entities: Google has its knowledge graph; Microsoft has Satori; and networks like LinkedIn and Facebook are fundamentally social graphs of entities.

3.) Search assistance. Google popularized search suggestions nearly a decade ago, using its knowledge of common queries to reduce effort on the part of searchers.

The article goes on to explain what will happen when faceted search (a mixture of entity-oriented and knowledge graph searches) expands, allowing for precision searches. The final step is faceted search combining with search assistance to mold something akin to Facebook’s graph search. The article touts these trends as new, but they sound awfully familiar. Didn’t Inktomi and Endeca approach search in this way in the 1980s? Perhaps this is just old wine in a new semantic bottle.

Chelsea Kerwin, December 11, 2013

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