Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Your final project here

Per the discussion in class today, if you're so inclined, please drop a message here with the abstract of you paper and maybe a link to it online. I'm looking forward to see what everyone else was working on!

Content Cliques: Content Quality and Site Restrictions


Quality is an attribute that is generally desirable, no less so in the field of information than anywhere else. However, a general notion of quality that spans all communities and all topics seems problematic due to the specificity of each community and their interests. Yet we find that Google, with its homogenized notion of quality (captured in their notion of pagerank) has become the most widely used tool that information workers turn to when they need to find answers on the Web. How does Google’s generic notion of quality apply to the specific requirements of a very specialized (and difficult) topic, and what could be done to improve Google’s effectiveness?

In this paper, I take a community, Buddhist scholars, and a specific question “What is the relationship between Buddhism and Nihilism?” and examine how the notion of quality information searches may be problematic for Google’s generic algorithms. In addition, I present a tool that uses Google search engine technology to perform standard Google queries, but confine their scope to a small collection of vetted sites (that I refer to as a “content clique”). The results are collected and then sorted according to Google’s pagerank. In the process of creating this tool, potential avenues for creating alternative quality rankings become apparent. Some of these alternatives are briefly discussed and methods of implementation are pointed out.


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