Posted on July 30, 2003 08:48 AM
I'm totally confused. We want all information networked in some way through publishers, internal networks, the web, but when the government tries to do their job in protecting us we are up and arms about what kind of access they have to searching. Yes in certain cases some could be abusing the access to all that information, but just think of all the bad people out there using networked resources for fraudulant activities. There is always a risk for putting everything online. This article in Wired News _Federal Data Searches on Hit List_ is pretty interesting. The solution as mentioned in the article is to formulate better policies for how that information is gathered and used.
I learned alot during my Florence trip about how US Passports are issued and the level of necessary background check is required to issue even temporary/emergency passports. Knowing that the level of information is required to protect all of us, made me feel better. In that context, it made sense that background checks protect me.
So how does this relate to Information Retrieval, well since 9/11 the government is really pushing the technology for IR and data mining tools. There is this very important need to make sure that information is accessible to many government agencies so that analysts can make the connections for potential threats to the US. Whoa! Sounds big, and there are flaws...lots of the systems where the information is housed are not up to date, there is little or no metadata standardization across these systems, and who is to say that the data is even "true." I will probably monitor these types of stories because it's bound to produce lots of great search technology in the coming years.