Archive for June, 2006

Second International Workshop on Open Source Information Retrieval

Wednesday, June 28th, 2006

At the 29th Annual International ACM SIGIR Conference on Research and Development on Information Retrieval, 6-11 August 2006, Seattle, USA:

“The goal of the Open Source Information Retrieval Workshop (OSIR) is to bring together practitioners developing open source search technologies in the context of a premier information retrieval research conference to share their recent advances, and to coordinate their strategy and research plans. The intent is to foster community-based development, to promote distribution of transparent Web search tools, and to strengthen the interaction with the research community in information retrieval.”

Open Source Information Retrieval


Tuesday, June 20th, 2006

A public or open index such as the one I outline here needs examination regarding censorship.

If each node is capable of deciding whether to censor something or not, then universal censorship is impossible.

Censorship is applied per node. A node cannot control what another node chooses to censor. The idea is that this should give a level of censorship relative to, and possibly representative of what exists out there in the real world.

Now that’s not really how things are – most of us passively accept (or aren’t aware of) censorship being done on our behalf, and yet in a system of independent and equal nodes, the people behind the nodes need to actively censor.

That’s the same sort of opt-in strategy that gets people pissed off when corporations do it.

Nevertheless, this scheme seems reasonable and democratic, if not justifiable. If each node censors according to the laws and views of the people who maintain it, then no one should be offended, no one should go to jail, and ultimately nothing should be censored – only diminished.

If each node can censor according to its own values, then it can be argued that in sum the Index represents the general attitudes of society, and that things will be more or less as censored as they are in the real world, with nothing completely excluded so long as there is someone who accepts it.

And that’s a problem: if some nodes don’t agree, then objectionable material will ‘leak out’ into the Index.

So if universal censorship is desired, it would be hard or impossible to censor the whole Index.

An uncensored index empowers the individual, and is not necessarily beneficial to the community. It can threaten safety and public standards. Do individuals really have a higher claim to information?

P.S. I’d like to have quoted Jefferson with “Information is the currency of democracy,” but the Jefferson Library ( says they can’t attribute it to him. So instead I’ll give you “”Each man is perfectly free in that which does not harm others” (Rousseau quoting Marquis d’Argenson in The Social Contract).

Artificial Intelligence and the Web

Wednesday, June 14th, 2006

Part of The Twenty-First National Conference on Artificial Intelligence:

“The special track on “AI and the Web” features technical papers on the use of AI techniques, systems, and concepts involving the Web. The emphasis is on papers in two active research areas: (1) using text and language analysis to interpret and understand natural language text found on the web and (2) developing and exploiting “Semantic Web” languages and systems that explicitly encode knowledge using languages such as RDF and OWL. Innovative papers in other areas describing research involving both AI and the Web are included.”

AAAI-06 Artificial Intelligence and the Web Special Technical Track