Market analysis

Search: Statistics vs. Semantics. And so the Battle Begins…

May 26th, 2009 by Greg Boutin

The Semantic Web gang gathered this month to discuss the recent launch of Wolfram Alpha and the endorsement of RDFa by Google.

My impression of Wolfram, to talk about it for a second, is that it fills a clear white space in the search engine arena, a space I would divide up into 2 sub-fields:

  • FIND: when you seek a specific, well-defined piece of information, you’re into FIND mode. IMHO, that’s a task in which Google’s supremacy is fast eroding. If I seek a precise answer to a question, say the names of the different provinces in India or all the movies in which Sharon Stone played (not that I’d ever look for that), I tend to rely less and less on the search engine gorilla. I either go directly to Wikipedia (although it’s a little like Google in that it’s often serving me ‘too much information’), use vertical databases (such as IDMB for movies), or land directly on more targeted search engines such as Powerset or, now, Wolfram, which impressed me.
    Granted, I sometime still use Google to access Wikipedia. But the point is, Google is not my exclusive entry point to the web in that scenario. So Wolfram may well have found a key weakness to exploit, as the statistical approach *may* not be ideally suited to this task. Will Wolfram steal significant volume of clicks from Google? I don’t know, a lot of that comes down to execution, but there is no denying it found a crack in the shiny armor. (more…)

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Web appsSome Semantic Soul Searching on Search!

August 31st, 2008 by Greg Boutin
SAN JOSE, CA - JUNE 13 : (L-R) Jonathan Schwa...

What is semantic search? Can it supplant Google? Can it give a second life to Yahoo? Does it bring better results yet? Will it later? How will it get there? If anyone, who will deliver superior search? Is search even a good application of semantic technologies? And, my personal favorite, why IN THE WORLD is everyone spending their hard-earned cash on incrementally improving a benefit that’s already pretty well covered (and probably more than a little dogwatched over by Google*), when there are so many cool applications of semantic technologies awaiting us out there? And among them, I believe, the killer app…

Many questions the Gang grasped with in the August edition of our podcast, together with special guests Peter Mika of SearchMonkey and Giovanni Tummarello of Semantic Web Index Sindice. Available for your listening pleasure (or torture, if you’re like my life partner and about to start that anti-semantic web group…) here.

And as I did in the recording, let me refer you to Alex Iskold’s article in Nodalities as a great complement to our conversations. It’s promised, in my next post I won’t make any reference to Alex, who by now must be asking himself why all the attention…

* by the way, what happened to that Twine post and discussion on Google’s activity in semantic search? It seems to have been removed???

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