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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December 1, 2010

The state of the art in text analytics applications

Text analytics application areas typically fall into one or more of three broad, often overlapping domains:

For several years, I’ve been distressed at the lack of progress in text analytics or, as it used to be called, text mining. Yes, the rise of sentiment analysis has been impressive, and higher volumes of text data are being processed than were before. But otherwise, there’s been a lot of the same old, same old. Most actual deployed applications of text analytics or text mining go something like this:

Often, it seems desirable to integrate text analytics with business intelligence and/or predictive analytics tools that operate on tabular data is. Even so, such integration is most commonly weak or nonexistent. Apart from the usual reasons for silos of automation, I blame this lack on a mismatch in precision, among other reasons. A 500% increase in mentions of a subject could be simple coincidence, or the result of a single identifiable press article. In comparison, a 5% increase in a conventional business metric might be much more important.

But in fairness, the text analytics innovation picture hasn’t been quite as bleak as what I’ve been painting so far. Read more

April 4, 2010

Ike Pigott on the future of reporting

Ike Pigott argues that, as the number of conventional journalists plummets, corporations will have to hire their own “embedded” journalists to fill the void. Read more

April 1, 2010

Google funniest joke of the year (that I’ve noticed so far)

I just noticed a subtle and really funny Google joke. Look at where on the search results page it tells you how long the search took. They’re screwing around with the units of time (and in some cases substituting actual measures of speed).  So far I’ve noticed figures in units of:

I haven’t tried to check or estimate the conversion factors used.

Related links

April 1, 2010

April Fool’s Day highlights

It’s April 1, and hence time for jests, online or otherwise. Highlights this year include:

Edit: And more being added as I find them:

Related links

March 29, 2010

Google’s version of an old joke

Search Google for “recursion” and it helpfully offers a link to let you search on — you guessed it — “recursion.”  The joke has been implemented in German as well.

This idea is not, to put it mildly, new. I first saw the definition

Recursion: See recursion

in the glossary to Intellicorp’s KEE documentation, in 1984 or so. And I’d guess the joke is actually a lot older than that.

For another variation of the same idea, see this link.

Edit: For yet more recursive humor, see this picture of Wil Wheaton.

July 8, 2009

Google declares total war on Microsoft

Google blogged Tuesday night about a new project, the Google Chrome Operating System. Highlights include:

Obviously, Google Chrome OS is a direct attack on Microsoft — even more so than Google Wave, which I’ve predicted will “play merry hell with Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft SharePoint, and more,” or for that matter than Google Mail and the rest of Google Apps. Taken together, Google’s initiatives suggest that an all-out Google-Microsoft war is coming, in a conflict that many people have been expecting — and analyzingfor years.

So how will this all shake out? Well, let’s start with some basic points:

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May 30, 2009

MEN ARE FROM EARTH, COMPUTERS ARE FROM VULCAN

The newsletter/column excerpted below was originally published in 1998.  Some of the specific references are obviously very dated.  But the general points about the requirements for successful natural language computer interfaces still hold true.  Less progress has been made in the intervening decade-plus than I would have hoped, but some recent efforts — especially in the area of search-over-business-intelligence — are at least mildly encouraging.  Emphasis added.

Natural language computer interfaces were introduced commercially about 15 years ago*.  They failed miserably.

*I.e., the early 1980s

For example, Artificial Intelligence Corporation’s Intellect was a natural language DBMS query/reporting/charting tool.  It was actually a pretty good product.  But it’s infamous among industry insiders as the product for which IBM, in one of its first software licensing deals, got about 1700 trial installations — and less than a 1% sales close rate.  Even its successor, Linguistic Technologies’ English Wizard*, doesn’t seem to be attracting many customers, despite consistently good product reviews.

*These days (i.e., in 2009) it’s owned by Progress and called EasyAsk. It still doesn’t seem to be selling well.

Another example was HAL, the natural language command interface to 1-2-3.  HAL is the product that first made Bill Gross (subsequently the founder of Knowledge Adventure and idealab!) and his brother Larry famous.  However, it achieved no success*, and was quickly dropped from Lotus’ product line.

*I loved the product personally. But I was sadly alone.

In retrospect, it’s obvious why natural language interfaces failed. First of all, they offered little advantage over the forms-and-menus paradigm that dominated enterprise computing in both the online-character-based and client-server-GUI eras.  If you couldn’t meet an application need with forms and menus, you couldn’t meet it with natural language either. Read more

May 29, 2009

Google Wave — finally a Microsoft killer?

Google held a superbly-received preview of a new technology called Google Wave, which promises to “reinvent communication.” In simplest terms, Google Wave is a software platform that:

If this all works out, Google Wave could play merry hell with Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft SharePoint, and more.

I suspect it will.

And by the way, there’s a cool “natural language” angle as well. Read more

April 20, 2009

The new Attensity — deal overview

A new Attensity Group has been created in a complex set of maneuvers. So far as I understand or guess, elements of the deal include:

I was told on the phone empolis was doing something like €30-40 million. Attensity and Living-e were under $10 million each. That surprises me a bit, as I thought Attensity was in that range on commercial business alone, and was doing more than $10 million counting its government accounts.

It turns out that if I had been paying attention to the news filters I could have seen this coming. Read more

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