Structured search

Analysis of companies or products focused on structured or faceted search. Related subjects include:

November 25, 2012

The future of search

I believe there are two ways search will improve significantly in the future. First, since talking is easier than typing, speech recognition will allow longer and more accurate input strings. Second, search will be informed by much more persistent user information, with search companies having very detailed understanding of searchers. Based on that, I expect:

My reasoning starts from several observations:

In principle, there are two main ways to make search better:

The latter, I think, is where significant future improvement will be found.

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September 20, 2009

Data marts in the world of text

CMS/search (Content Management System) expert Alan Pelz-Sharpe recently decried “Shadow IT”, by which he seems to mean departmental proliferation of data stores outside the control of the IT department. In other words, he’s talking about data marts, only for documents rather than tabular data.

Notwithstanding the manifest virtues of centralization, there are numerous reasons you might want data marts,  in the tabular and document worlds alike.  For example:

Bottom line: Text data marts, much like relational data marts, are almost surely here to stay.

Related link

December 29, 2008

Where “semantic” technology is or isn’t important

At Lynda Moulton’s behest, I spoke a couple of times recently on the subject of where “semantic” technology is or isn’t likely to be important.  One was at the Gilbane conference in early December.  The slides were based on my previously posted deck for a June talk I gave on a text analytics market overview. The actual Gilbane slides may be found here.

My opinions about the applicability of semantic technology include:

So what would your list be like?

October 5, 2008

Worst search UI ever

On the whole, the Barack Obama campaign has been very internet-savvy. Maybe their web site JohnMcCainRecord.com is yet another example of same. But to my eyes, it has such an appallingly bad search interface that people going to the site are apt to be annoyed. To wit:

And then, of course, there’s the funny stuff. For example, if you search on foo, you are taken to Rural Issues.

In general terms, I like the idea of the site. But absent some serious changes, JohnMcCainRecord.com should not have a search interface.

Edit:  More here in my post on The Obama campaign’s Search Engine to Nowhere

September 20, 2008

Attivio update

I talked w/ Andrew McKay of Attivio for 2 ½ hours Thursday. I’ve also been working with some Attivio engineers on a blog search engine. I think it’s time to post about Attivio. :) Read more

June 19, 2008

The Text Analytics Marketplace: Competitive landscape and trends

As I see it, there are eight distinct market areas that each depend heavily on linguistic technology. Five are off-shoots of what used to be called “information retrieval”:

1. Web search

2. Public-facing site search

3. Enterprise search and knowledge management

4. Custom publishing

5. Text mining and extraction

Three are more standalone:

6. Spam filtering

7. Voice recognition

8. Machine translation

Read more

June 15, 2008

How text search has evolved over the past 15 years

I just stumbled across a brilliant summary of evolution in text search technology, written four years ago. It’s equally valid today (which in itself says something). I found it on the Prism Legal blog, but the actual author is Sharon Flank. My own comments are interspersed in bold. Read more

May 12, 2008

Powerset is mildly interesting

Powerset has done a great job of generating buzz for it’s version of smart search. That said, its current demo is mediocre — and that’s being polite. Powerset currently indexes little more than just Wikipedia, and the quality of its search results is about comparable to that of Wikipedia’s justly reviled internal search engine. To determine this, I did searches on both sites on five strings. Wikipedia typically had more total junk ranking higher, but it also put the very best hits of all higher than Powerset did. The strings were:

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February 1, 2008

Implications of Microsoft’s bid for Yahoo

As I write this, Microsoft has just announced an offer to acquire Yahoo. Early responses from the likes of Danny Sullivan, Henry Blodget, the Download Squad, TechCrunch, Raven SEO, Mashable, and others seem to boil down to:

I’ll try to be a bit more analytical than that, but this is still going to be quick. Assuming the deal goes through:

  1. Microsoft will recombine both parts of the old FAST/alltheweb.com Therefore, Microsoft will be able to use the same technology for web and enterprise search, to the extent that such commonality makes sense.
  2. I’d expect Microsoft to try to differentiate its technology via faceted/structured search. That’s a FAST strength.
  3. The old FAST search-as-BI dream might become pretty appealing to Microsoft/Yahoo.
  4. In a non-search point, Microsoft is strong in games and Yahoo is strong in fantasy sports. Look for some synergies.
  5. There sure would be a whole lot of non-Windows technology inside Microsoft. :)

Basically, Microsoft is a company that’s a lot more sophisticated in its thinking about user interfaces and experiences than Yahoo is. That’s where the really interesting competitive innovation would be most likely to occur.

January 8, 2008

More on Microsoft in enterprise search

Following up on my prior posts about Microsoft’s impending acquisition of FAST, they’ve now had the conference call. By custom and indeed antitrust law, such calls are very light on content. But here are a few tidbits and takeaways, all from Jeff Raikes of Microsoft:

  1. Jeff talked solely about FAST as adding to enterprise search, and rightly contrasted that with web search.
  2. However, he deflected questions about web search with “We aren’t talking about that much detail right now” rather than with a firm “Well, we aren’t allowed to use FAST that way.”
  3. Specifically, enterprise search is all about integration with SharePoint (portal).
  4. Jeff said Microsoft’s current search could handle millions or maybe tens of millions of documents, but thought there was demand for FAST’s ability to handle billions.
  5. He positioned FAST as an application development platform, giving an example of structured search (the actual word was “pivot”) in consumer electronics. … Well, at least he’s looking in the right direction.

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