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Diary of a Mad Grant Writer

This is more mutterings about search engines and improving MPOW, inspired by a day of grant-writing. (The grant is due at the fiscal agent next Tuesday.)

Some of you newer to this blog may have missed my fevered descriptions of how to improve search in a content-sparse metadata database such as MPOW. As I mapped out how my mad scheme for improving search in MPOW would work, I wanted to address Genny’s concerns about processing overhead.

Take a search in MPOW for chocolate cake. Pass the search through MPOW, then conduct the search in the wild (as in, er, you know, Google). O.k., I know, 3.3 million hits! But then take the first, oh, I don’t know, 200 matches, and match MPOW results against these. This is where it gets fruit-juicy good, because now the user typing chocolate cake in MPOW retrieves fabulous websites such as Recipe Source. That’s really what the user expects from MPOW: put in a simple query, get back sites matching their results, but websites they can trust.

Now back on MPOW process results in this order: MPOW hits; hits representing MPOW/Wild Web matches (deduped); draw a line, and present “continue searching outside MPOW.” Below the very top hits from MPOW would be the general collections we are known for.

For second-tier MPOW results, show the entire site, or specific items, or a combination? Maybe a link to “your match here?” I’m not sure; that sounds like it needs lots of thinking and usability testing. What I am clear about is that something along these lines would bring the user search experience from 1992 to 2005 and beyond. I also think this is far more feasible and dynamic than caching content or similar predictive schemes. You just don’t know when the pope is going to die or when a tsunami is going to hit.

It’s not making a 100% match against the Web, and it would show dupes below the line unless someone has a bright idea for deduping the Wild Web. But it’s gotta be a vast improvement for MPOW searchaliciousness.

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