Search engines

Analysis of search technology, products, services, and vendors. Related subjects include:

November 24, 2008

Google is reported to be cutting back

Google seems to be cutting back its workforce, or at least radically scaling back its growth plans. It’s tough to quickly assess details just based on the blogosphere, given all the Google hate out there. But WebGuild Silicon Valley offers a post claiming that Google’s 20,000 actual employees are paired with 10,000 more contractors, and the latter are being pared way back. Various other posts linked in the comment thread say similar things.

Before you get too excited about hiring opportunities, however — it’s not obvious how many victims are in the core search business in any capacity, and it’s certain not clear whether anybody is being let go in areas like search algorithm research.

November 19, 2008

More website weirdness

Here’s something longer-lasting and weirder than Vertica’s “We sell turkeys” theme: Mark Logic, whose product is used primarily to help enterprises make their content more acceptable, doesn’t have a search engine on its own website.* Read more

November 12, 2008

Are denial-of-insight attacks a threat to search logs and/or VOTC/VOTM apps?

TechTaxi points out that it’s at least theoretically possible to, by polluting the Web, pollute somebody’s web-wide information gathering. (Hat tip to Daniel Tunkelang.) They further assert this is a relatively near-term threat.

The theory can’t be denied. What’s more, bad actors have other motives to pollute the Web. For example, if they plant favorable automated comments about their own products or unfavorable about the competition’s, Voice of the Customer/Market applications will naturally be confused. And if automated reputation-checkers get more prominent, there will be a major incentive to game them, just as there has been for Google’s PageRank. So VOTC/VOTM market research tools could polluted as a side effect.

Similarly, if somebody wants to test your e-commerce site by throwing a ton of searches at it, your search logs will lose value.

But disinformation of competitors for the sake of disinformation? Or, as the article suggestions, vandalism/extortion? Off the top of my head, I’m not thinking of a serious near-term threat scenario.

November 11, 2008

The Google flu search story is pretty interesting

Google reports that it is tracking flu outbreaks via search. Actually, that’s a misnomer. Google is not tracking articles written about flu; HealthMap et al. do that. Rather, this Google project is tracking search queries about flu-related subjects. They have graphs suggesting a strong correlation between flu-related searches and actual cases of flu, notwithstanding that many searches on “flu” would be for, say “flu shot.” The key point is that Google tracks where searches come from, and hence detects which geographical areas are suffering flu outbreaks. And it does this 1-2 weeks faster than the alternative method, which is physicians reporting to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).* Read more

November 11, 2008

Lukewarm review of Yahoo mobile search

Stephen Shankland reviewed Yahoo’s mobile voice search, which works by taking voice input and returning results onscreen (in his case on his Blackberry Pearl). He found:

No big surprises there. 😀

October 28, 2008

Google and the Author’s Guild establish an ASCAP for books

Most of the coverage of the Google/Authors Guild settlement today seems to focus on Google’s side of things. But I think the authors’ side is much more important. This deal paves the way for traditional publishers to become quaint and useless — and not a moment too soon.

Below are some quotes — fair use!! 🙂 — from the Authors Guild official statement on the deal (emphasis mine): Read more

October 11, 2008

Lynda Moulton prefers enterprise search products that get up and running quickly

Lynda Moulton, to put it mildly, disagrees with the Gartner Magic Quadrant analysis of enterprise search. Her preferred approach is captured in:

Coveo, Exalead, ISYS, Recommind, Vivisimo, and X1 are a few of a select group that are marking a mark in their respective niches, as products ready for action with a short implementation cycle (weeks or months not years).

By way of contrast, Lynda opines:

Autonomy and Endeca continue to bring value to very large projects in large companies but are not plug-and-play solutions, by any means. Oracle, IBM, and Microsoft offer search solutions of a very different type with a heavy vendor or third-party service requirement. Google Search Appliance has a much larger installed base than any of these but needs serious tuning and customization to make it suitable to enterprise needs.

In particular, her views about FAST (now Microsoft) are scathing.

October 5, 2008

Worst search UI ever

On the whole, the Barack Obama campaign has been very internet-savvy. Maybe their web site 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, 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

September 13, 2008

One overview of e-discovery

I just found a year-old (almost) blog post from EMC executive Andrew Cohen that succinctly lays out his view (which he believes to mainly be a consensus stance) on e-discovery. Cohen is evidently both a lawyer and a honcho in document management system vendor EMC’s Compliance Division, which is probably relevant to interpreting his outlook, in the spirit of the old Kennedy School dictum that “Where you stand depends upon where you sit.”

Highlights included:

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