I figure it's about time I posted an update on the summer project that myself and Ian are supervising. Our summer student Nick is now two weeks into the project and seems to be getting to grips nicely with the problem. He also seems to be coping pretty well with two novice supervisors babbling away at him whenever we meet up! If he leaves the office without being completely overwhelmed with information I think it's been a successful meeting.
So far Nick has managed to code some software that takes textual input, passes it to several web services for keyword detection and then performs searches for relevant content on Google, Yahoo! and Bing. The next stage is to get to grips with the temporal nature of conversations so that the keyword detection and searches are carried out continually, with some control of time scales and how much text is used as input. After that we'll start to look at algorithms for combining keywords to get the most successful search queries possible. Meanwhile, we need to come up with a human evaluation that isn't going to make everyone at MobiSoc hate us when we ask them to do it, and an algorithmic evaluation that makes sense and actually evaluates the right parts of the system.
Overall though we're ahead of schedule, which is a very good place to be. I'll continue to post about progress as the project goes on.