August 29, 2014

Department of Defense Launches Targeted/Domain-Specific Search Research Program Named “Memex”

share save 171 16 Department of Defense Launches Targeted/Domain Specific Search Research Program Named Memex

Perhaps it’s time for Chris Sherman and I to start talking and writing about the Invisible Web (aka deep web) again? (-;

Chris and I co-authored a book on the topic 12.5 years ago.

In other words, many of the concepts involved targeted/domain-specific crawling will not be new.

The news release and documentations (below) make it clear that at this point DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) wants to focus on the use of the technology with open source/open web material.

I’ll have more to say after I have time to review the materials.

News from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA):

Today’s web searches use a centralized, one-size-fits-all approach that searches the Internet with the same set of tools for all queries. While that model has been wildly successful commercially, it does not work well for many government use cases.

For example, it still remains a largely manual process that does not save sessions, requires nearly exact input with one-at-a-time entry, and doesn’t organize or aggregate results beyond a list of links. Moreover, common search practices miss information in the deep web—the parts of the web not indexed by standard commercial search engines—and ignore shared content across pages.

To help overcome these challenges, DARPA has launched the Memex program. Memex seeks to develop the next generation of search technologies and revolutionize the discovery, organization and presentation of search results. The goal is for users to be able to extend the reach of current search capabilities and quickly and thoroughly organize subsets of information based on individual interests. Memex also aims to produce search results that are more immediately useful to specific domains and tasks, and to improve the ability of military, government and commercial enterprises to find and organize mission-critical publically available information on the Internet.

“We’re envisioning a new paradigm for search that would tailor indexed content, search results and interface tools to individual users and specific subject areas, and not the other way around,” said Chris White, DARPA program manager. “By inventing better methods for interacting with and sharing information, we want to improve search for everybody and individualize access to information. Ease of use for non-programmers is essential.”

[Our emphasis] Memex would ultimately apply to any public domain content; initially, DARPA intends to develop Memex to address a key Defense Department mission: fighting human trafficking. Human trafficking is a factor in many types of military, law enforcement and intelligence investigations and has a significant web presence to attract customers. The use of forums, chats, advertisements, job postings, hidden services, etc., continues to enable a growing industry of modern slavery. An index curated for the counter-trafficking domain, along with configurable interfaces for search and analysis, would enable new opportunities to uncover and defeat trafficking enterprises.

Memex plans to explore three technical areas of interest: domain-specific indexing, domain-specific search, and DoD-specified applications. The program is specifically not interested in proposals for the following: attributing anonymous services, deanonymizing or attributing identity to servers or IP addresses, or accessing information not intended to be publicly available. The program plans to use commodity hardware and emphasize creating and leveraging open source technology and architecture.

The Memex

Many of you know that the Memex was a device envisioned and discussed in a July 1945 article in The Atlantic Monthly titled, “As We May Think.”

The article is, with good reason, required reading for many LIS students.

This cross-referencing, which Bush called associative indexing, would enable users to quickly and flexibly search huge amounts of information and more efficiently gain insights from it. The memex presaged and encouraged scientists and engineers to create hypertext, the Internet, personal computers, online encyclopedias and other major IT advances of the last seven decades.

Event

To familiarize potential participants with the technical objectives of Memex, DARPA has scheduled a Proposers’ Day on Tuesday, February 18, 2014, in Arlington, Va.

Full Text of Broad Agency Announcement

Memex Project–DARPA (2014) DARPA-BAA-14-21

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Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.