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August 11, 2009

Ball in Your Court: "All Wet"

By Craig Ball

I was once trial counsel for the water authority of a Mexican city seeking damages for delay in the mapping of a water system serving three million customers. I learned that most water entering the pipes never reached consumers because the patchwork system was riddled with leaks. The leaks were difficult to repair because the water authority didn't know where its pipes were buried!

Repair crews made Swiss cheese of streets, but the massive leakage limited water service to just a few hours a day. Those who could afford it erected tanks to hoard water. The rest suffered. Until Servicios de Agua y Drenaje learned where its pipes lay, staunched the leaks and addressed local hoarding, the system stayed broken. ¡Ay, caramba! 

Read the rest here.


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Great article. Clear & concise exposition of what we've been wrestling with for over 20 years in full-text search (anybody remember STAIRS or BRS)?

The variables mentioned (such as stop/noise words, parsers, punctuation) are DEFAULTS and usually can be modified/ignored/customized by a user. Every OS and application from Notepad to SAP (and every tool and tool "back-end" used in computer forensics and litigation support) has default settings; knowing what they are and how they effect performance/outcomes and getting them "right" is the responsibility of the user.

How long before the ESI and the person configuring/conducting the indexing & searching are subject to a challenge a la Daubert/Frye?

Craig - Excellent and disturbing article. Seems like these adjectives frequently go together for your articles. So what is a busy practictioner to do? Do you know of anybody who has tested and rated the searches, the vendors? Does this mean we have to abandon indexed search until there is better quality control. Shall I send your article to all vendors and ask them to comment? Ahh... just when we thought it was safe to go back in the water.

I remember BRS Search very well, and was reminiscing fondly about it only yesterday. I used it extensively and now wish I'd appreciated it more at the time (and kept my installation disks!).

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