Military Intelligence-Like Functions for Web Metasearch

May 8, 2008

One of my business associates in Canada sent me a link to an interesting search engine named The system–unlike the shy Powerset, a media darling developing a semantic search engine–is available for anyone to use. Navigate to Make sure you add the extra “u”, or you will be looking at a plain text page from the graphically restrained Clue Computing operation in cow country. takes results and applies semantic processes to them. Some of the company’s display options are a bit too sophisticated for my 64-year-young eyes, but I found the system quite useful. Let’s run through a basic search and take a cursory look at some of the features that I found interesting. Then I want to comment on the semantic search boom or boomlet (depending on how jaded you are), and conclude with several observations. In the last few days, the shrinking violets in the Big Name search vendors’ public relations department have reduced their flow of 30-something insights. Perhaps my comments about semantic search will “goose” them into squawking. I certainly hope so. Life’s no fun in rural Kentucky without well-groomed Ivy League wizards asserting their intellectual superiority in email speak.

A Query for

Navigate to the splash screen. Make certain that you have checked the option under the search box for “Charts”. We’ll look at the other options in a moment. Now enter the test query as shown in italics: Google +”programmable search engine”. Here’s my result for this query on May 7, 2008:


The system processes results from MSN ( and Yahoo, processes them, and displays this map. Note that the system identifies important people and companies. The system correctly identifies the Google Forms service as related to the “programmable search engine”.

The system offers other ways to view the results set. For example, you can look at hits from the search engines to which the query is passed as a traditional laundry list. Other choices include a cluster display and a Flash display which is, in my opinion, cluttered with sliders, controls, and options.

You can also enter a more complex query using the advanced search page. In my tests, the system did a good job of dealing with specific Boolean queries. You can also set preferences, which may not be necessary for a metasearch-based approach to generating hits.’ s Owner is a service of Sprylogics International Corp. This Canadian company develops advanced search, analysis, and information display tools and services. The company asserts,

These solutions enable users to search large amounts of unstructured data on the Web and in internal corporate databases, and convert it into actionable intelligence. The core technologies driving Sprylogics’ solutions are embedded in the Analyst and Evidens analytical workflow and Cluuz Search Engine platform which enables both consumers and corporate users to methodically search the Internet and internal corporate resources and find the information they are looking for. Cluuz search results are visually displayed through patent pending semantic graphs and result in improved decision making capabilities.

The company, like Kroll (a unit of Marsh & McLennan) and Silobreaker (a privately held firm) has a management team with some experience in law enforcement and intelligence. The firm’s president, Avi Shachar, has experience with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Israeli intelligence.

This real world experience is evident in the result set shown in the screen shot above. The default results for the query shown in the graphic in this essay focuses on people. Result lists are useful in certain types of library work. But an investigator wants to know who the key people are and how one or more of the individuals relate to one another, companies, and particular subjects.


My experience with was quite positive. I see and test a large number of search and content processing systems, and Sprylogics is worth monitoring. Several other comments are warranted by my test drive:

  1. For many years, getting a results list that identified people required expensive software and a lot of fiddling around. The established vendors such as i2 Ltd. in England made products that were not generally available for business intelligence. Sprylogics, it seems to me, wants to bring this type of useful service to a broader audience.
  2. If I were able to push additional information into the Sprylogics’ engine, I would be able to get a useful result without much, if any, manual opening and closing of links in a result list. The bird’s-eye view of the information pertinent to a query about a little-known topic like Google’s PSE is quite useful.
  3. The interface permits customization. This is good because some of the fine-grained controls available in the service as a Flash interface can be easily stripped down for “line of fire” work.

My two complaints are relatively minor but important to me. First, I could not locate pricing information about the company’s products or services. While not unusual, the lack of a floor cost means a phone call and email plus playing the “he’s on the road” game. Second, it’s difficult to determine how easy or hard it would be to integrate this system into a behind-the-firewall intelligence operation. I have a hunch the company has the details, but it has chosen to keep some data close to the vest. Again, this makes the management team happy but it bedevils me.

I have added Sprylogics to my watch list. Take a look, and I will update this posting as I gather more information about the company and gain more experience with the system.

Stephen Arnold, May 9, 2008


6 Responses to “ Military Intelligence-Like Functions for Web Metasearch”

  1. Let’s Assume Microsoft Acquires Powerset : Beyond Search on May 10th, 2008 1:32 pm

    […] I saw an interesting demonstration of the Powerset technology at the BearStearns’ (oh, the late, lamentable BearStearns’) Internet Conference a year or two ago. I also received a link that allowed me to run some test queries on the system. Based on technology from Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center), Powerset delivers some of the functionality I wrote about in my description of here. […]

  2. Alex Zivkovic on May 12th, 2008 1:27 pm

    Great review, thanks. You have brought up an important point regarding Cluuz and data behind corporate firewalls. Cluuz technology is incorporated into Sprylogics enterprise products where it provides search and disambiguation capabilities for both internal and external data. Enterprises using Cluuz technology can do a single search for all sources of information that they have access to. The results are pulled from unstructured information from within the firewall and reconciled with the results pulled from the web, thereby forming a complete intelligence picture. This capability allows users to very effectively expand their knowledge on a topic for which they already have information internally.

  3. Stephen E. Arnold on May 12th, 2008 2:20 pm

    Hi, Alex,
    Thanks for the kind words. Feel free to comment critically on my Web log posts. Maybe you would like to participate in my special Search Wizards Speak feature. You can see the 13 interviews I’ve done here:
    Thanks for taking the time to post,
    Stephen Arnold, May 12, 2008

  4. Alt Search Engines » Blog Archive » Military Intelligence-Like Functions for Web Metasearch on May 12th, 2008 8:38 pm

    […] Guest Author Stephen Arnold […]

  5. Useful Interface Enhancements : Beyond Search on July 31st, 2008 12:02 am

    […] is one of the search companies tapping Yahoo’s search index. The has introduced some useful interface changes. I will be digging into this system in future write ups, but I want to call your attention to one of the innovations I found useful. (my first write up is here.) […]

  6. Sprylogics’ CTO Zivkovic Talks about : Beyond Search on September 15th, 2011 3:54 pm

    […] demos that work on limited result sets.–a company I profiled here several weeks ago here–offers more hearty fare. The company uses Yahoo’s index to showcase its technology. You […]

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