Privacy and serendipity - Dave Coplin on the Guardian Tech Weekly Podcast

This week Dave Coplin, Bing’s Director of Search, joined The Guardian’s Charles Arthur and Aleks Krotoski on the acclaimed Tech Weekly podcast to thrash out the latest news and issues in the world of tech.


In the latest episode the panel explores the origins, impact and future of search engines which Aleks describes as “the killer app of the web”. Dave and Aleks discuss the importance of understanding human decision making,  and the value of serendipity in enhancing discovery on the web and Dave takes us through the journey search has been on and how far we still have to go.


Charles, Dave and Aleks agree that in the world of search, relevancy is still king but increasingly important is providing greater transparency in how the relevancy is derived which can provide greater trust in the results presented.  Whilst this kind of exposure is complex, and would essentially involve sharing the recipe for our own “secret sauce”, one way of achieving a similar outcome is by harnessing the power of the “social signal” in your search results, providing you with a “trust barometer” on which you can measure and make your own judgement  on.  This will be one of the key areas of development for the future of search and is an area Dave has already written more about on his blog.


Privacy came up as a key issue and concern, with all of the panel agreeing it was something that we as a society need to do more around, providing greater transparency and control for individuals to make their own personal selection as to how private they want to live their digital lives along with tools that allow them to understand and track how others are using their data – this in itself is one of society’s biggest challenges when it comes to enabling us to make the most of all the internet has to offer.  Microsoft has great pedigree in this discussion with Privacy by Design being embedded into the DNA of every employee and product which is a great start but in itself is not the entirety of the answer.


Also within the discussion, the panel talked in further detail about the future of search and how the concept of “user intent” must evolve from a series of separate transactions, to a joined up experience that is much more reflective of the way in which we make human decisions today, this won’t be easy,  but by harnessing the power of today’s internet and combining it with more human elements around discovery, and the social signal, we should be able to get a lot further forward than we are today.


All in all, it was a great opportunity to talk through all these issues (and more!) with the TechWeekly team – if you want to hear for yourselves how it went, you can listen to the full podcast for yourselves here.


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