Supporting Exploratory Search via the Semantic Web

Lead Research Organisation: University of Southampton
Department Name: Electronics and Computer Science


My work has largely been concerned with how to improve access to the right information at the right time on the Web via effective presentation both of how to explore information as well as how to represent the confluence of sources that can be explored. My goal is to find ways to make it ever easier for anyone to start with what they know and be able to use that to help them explore information to build the knowledge they want. For instance, one challenge was to help someone who knew nothing about Classical Music find Classical Music they might like. For this challenge, we created a new interface paradigm that connected audio cues with information in a rich context so that one could use what they did know - whether or not they liked what they heard - with what they wanted - being able to explore the domain to find pieces they would enjoy hearing. The cover of this document shows a screen shot of that interaction, and can be tried at The work involved both front end requirements and design, information architecture for distributed heterogeneous information Most recently this work has focused on the potential of the Semantic Web to deliver information that can, by machine-based inference, provide richer associations among points of information than the current Web. Information can be explored not only via raw search results but via multiple contexts, from current work situation to the level of trust one may give a returned source. For example, a person interested in exploring breast cancer on a semantically enabled Web will be able to explore this concept from multiple attributes, such as causes, treatments, historical perspectives, current research, diagnostic practices and so on. A lay person looking at treatments may see who has lead a particular approach, and may wish to see what other work they've carried out and, equally, explore what people's own experiences of the treatment have been. They may wish to look primarily at descriptions of this work presented in non-specialist terms, but not have medical journals necessarily excluded from their view. The first challenge here is how to make these networks of associated information tractable in order to be explorable and in a way that best respects the context of the search itself: a lay reader. Related to the representation of the information is presenting this information in terms of Trust, a key component of the Semantic Web. Something something. Key challenges in the above scenario therefore are:General strategies for presenting complex networks of highly associated informationInnovative queries for cross dimensional searches.Policy/Trust ScaleThe proposed collaboration across three sites has three phases which build upon each other. So far, interation efforts in Semantic Web research have been built on top of known knowledge bases, where the graph is known in advance and the UI can work with these known constraints. At MIT's DIG lab, we will look at how to generalize from these approaches to support more Web-like interaction. That is, how to explore across connected graphs where there is no pre-constructed representation of part of that domain. A challenge to illustrate this space is to imagine how a person looking at Beethoven within the context of Classical Music would be able to see paths, while exploring, that would lead to political connections between Beethoven and Napoleon. The focus of work at MIT will be to consider representing massive Web scale graphs for such meaningful exploration. At the University of Maryland's MindLab and HCIL lab, we will be looking at how policy/trust mechanisms can be made tractable within such explorations. It is not sufficient to propose a model for standard interaction practice: it is critical to evaluate it. The new types of exploration afforded by these new technologies on the Web call for innovative methods in evaluation: tasks across a richly associated space like the (Semantic) Web can move


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André P (2007) Continuum

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Van Kleek M (2007) Gui --- phooey!