After today's lecture, and after doing the assigned readings, you should have a good sense of the different ways that humans go about seeking for and consuming information. For this assignment, I would like you to pick several (at least three) of the real-world IR systems from the list below, and do the following:
The systems you have to choose from are the following:
Turn in your assignment via email, with "IR HW1" in the title. Assignments are due April 7th.
Back to syllabus
- Spend some time getting to know the systems. Try out several searches types of searches on each one (personal interest, imagined academic or professional information needs, etc.). Look for and play with any "advanced" search modes that might be on offer.
- For each system, write a short paragraph addressing the following questions:
- How easy was it for you to learn to use the system?
- How easy would the system be for a novice user, who knew nothing (or very little) about both the subject matter and search strategies?
- How useful would the system be for a subject matter expert who is not a professional searcher, and who therefore does not have specialized training in search strategies, query languages, etc.?
- How useful would the system be for an expert searcher who is not a subject matter expert?
- How well were you able to determine what the system did and did not have in its index? In other words, after completing a search, did you have a good sense for whether your search was sufficient, or did it seem like you would need to use another system (covering related/similar content) in order to have conducted a truly comprehensive search?
- How well did you think you were able to control the balance between comprehensiveness (recall) and suppression of unwanted results (precision)?
- Write a summary paragraph with your overall impressions of the systems you examined. What was surprising? What did you find particularly difficult (or easy) about using the different systems? How did the different systems support different styles of information need, and how did they differ from one another?
- For extra credit (and fun!), pick two of the comparable systems from the list (NYT/WaPo, State Dept. Official vs. Wikileaks, MedlinePlus/WebMD/Up2Date) and write me a similar paragraph comparing and contrasting the two.