Last week I went to the Search Solutions event, held by BCS in their lovely office in Southampton Street. There were maybe 50 people, 6 or 7 women and seemingly even less laptops (which rather made it stand out from the more web-focused events I usually attend – because of lack of laptops not the male-female ratio).
I didn’t make masses of notes but I did capture a few points and reminders:
Vivian Lin Dufour from Yahoo talked about Search Pad, an attempt to make search more “stateful”.
Richard Russell from Google explained how the auctions for Google Ads work. Always interesting to hear more about the money side of things.
Dave Mountain, a geographer (another example of Nominative Determinism?) talked about geographical aspects of searching. He explained that if the task is “finding the nearest cafe”, then the ‘near’ isn’t a simple statement. There are types of near: as the crow flies, in travel time, in the direction I’m already going. After all you may not be interested in a cafe that’s already 5 miles behind you on the motorway. He had some good slides covering this, so hopefully they’ll be made available.
Tony Russell-Rose discussed Endeca’s impending pattern library. Should be interesting – public version to be available in the new year.
David White of Web Optimiser talked amongst other things about the importance of cross-media optimisation. He asked why don’t more companies, especially b2b ones, have phone numbers in title/description of search results? He also touched on the growth of twitter as a substantial source of referrals (in response to a question about whether Bing was increasing referrals and thus changing optimisation tactics).
Richard Boulton, as well as discussing his efforts with open source search, introduced us to the marvelous concept of dev/fort/.
“Imagine a place of no distractions, no IM, no Twitter — in fact, no internet. Within, a group of a dozen or more developers, designers, thinkers and doers. And a lot of a food.
Now imagine that place is a fort.”
Well marvellous to me but I wanted to get married in a Napoleonic fort so perhaps I’m not typical. He also mentioned searchevent.org, a day dedicated to open source search systems, which will hopefully happen again sometime.
Andrew Maisey talked about a school of thought that search will increasingly become less important on the site. Dynamic user journeys will encourage more browsing.
(Food was pretty good as usual for the venue. I’m hoping that we’re going back to BCS for our team away-day later in the year and then I can have more of the strawberry tarts.)