Computer Science

Peter Gibbons Memorial Lecture Series: How the dragons work

The first of four lectures on Facing the Data Mountain to be held on May 5, 2010
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Speaker: Professor Ian Witten, Dept of Computer Science, The University of Waikato

When: Refreshments at 5.30pm, lecture starts at 6.00pm.
Where: University of Auckland Conference Centre, 22 Symonds St, Building/room 423-342
Video: streamed live

Professor Witten is an internationally renowned computer scientist, fellow of the US Association of Computing Machinery, with research interests in text mining, machine learning, information retrieval and digital libraries, among other topics. Professor Witten, from Ireland originally, has been at Waikato since 1991, coming to New Zealand from a long association with the University of Calgary in Canada.

Synopsis: In the eye-blink that has elapsed since the turn of the millennium, the lives of those of us who work with information have been utterly transformed. Pretty well everything we need to know is on the web; if not today, then tomorrow. It's where we learn and play, shop and do business, keep up with old friends and meet new ones. What makes it possible for us to find the stuff we need to know? Search engines.

Search engines-"web dragons"-are the portals through which we access society's treasure trove of information. How do they stack up against librarians, the gatekeepers over centuries past? What role will libraries play in a world whose information is ruled by the web? How is the web organized? Who controls its contents, and how do they do it? How do search engines work? How can web visibility be exploited by those who want to sell us their wares? What's coming tomorrow, and can we influence it?

The web is an unprecedented phenomenon that is exerting a profound influence on the way we think work, and play. The information is open. But it is polluted and distorted, and the way that we access it is not open to public scrutiny and debate: it's a commercial trade secret that belongs to the dragons.




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