Stan the Man Roils Search Fabric

April 3, 2009

I spoke with a person today who called my attention to the comments about Stan (Vivisimo’s search champion) on a couple of Web logs. I am sorely tempted to identify the blogs and include snippets from the flames. For one example, click here. My view is that the economy is not doing any favors for most search and content processing companies. This week I have heard from four organizations with different types of search problems. Each has a different vendors’ solution, and none of these outfits is particularly happy. I don’t think marketing is the problem. The buyers listen to the pitches and don’t have much of an idea about the dependencies that make the different between a search system that works and one that does not. I am troubled by three trends:

  1. Self appointed experts. One of these people bought information about indexing from me and now touts my information as his / her own. Talking about search and content is not the same as creating a system that satisfies users.
  2. Simplification. Vendors have to simplify. Google’s game plan does not even hint that clustering Google Search Appliances is hard. The simplification is now getting vendors in trouble.
  3. Confusion. In one conversation, the company’s system administrator insisted that content management was search. CMS don’t work particularly well either and the problem is a rat’s nest. IT managers try fix after fix and end up chasing their tails.

I don’t see much amelioration in this situation. Scary. I’m thrilled that I am near retirement and can pick and choose projects.

Stephen Arnold, April 3, 2009


6 Responses to “Stan the Man Roils Search Fabric”

  1. Daniel Tunkelang on April 3rd, 2009 12:26 am

    Since I’m the cited example, I’ll identify myself as the blogger who flamed Stan. Vivisimo VP of Marketing Rebecca Thompson is a decent human being, and I think the “Meet Stan” pre-launch campaign was a honest mistake, either on her part or on the part of someone working for her. She probably thinks I overreacted. Regardless, she quickly cleared up any confusion (possibly including your own), and we moved on.

    But I’m curious that you say “don’t think marketing is the problem.” and then follow up with “The buyers listen to the pitches and don’t have much of an idea about the dependencies that make the different between a search system that works and one that does not.” If buyers don’t understand what makes a search system work, then, at least in my view, marketing is part of the problem.

  2. sperky undernet on April 3rd, 2009 5:18 am

    The Vivisimo footer on the bottom of the meetstan site makes this different from an apparently independent blogger site with an agenda. The possible association of “Meet Stan” with the veteran product “AskSam” is ingenious from a marketing point of view. Marketing is the pornography of product in a system that seems to epitomize the art painting of the mother that eats her own offspring that for some reason I cannot seem to find reference to on the net. The bottom line for this user is that Vivisimo makes evident the potential of clustering with its Clusty and ClusterMed products. Does Endeca have offerings on the free web or free user trial front?

  3. Daniel Tunkelang on April 3rd, 2009 8:36 am

    Interesting imagery. In case it’s still not clear, I wrote my post before there was any indication on the Meet Stan site that it was associated with Vivisimo. It’s clear now. It wasn’t then. Gory details on my blog and Vivisimo’s.

    As for Endeca demos on the web, there are lots of Endeca-powered sites that are public-facing and free for consumers, including Home Depot, the Nike store, ESPN, WebMD, and the Financial Times’s recently launched Newssift site. We aren’t trying to be a web search engine (or meta-search engine). We had a demo site back in 2001, but we’ve focused on customers ever since.

    (apologies if this comment is a duplicate–I submitted it before with links, and I suspect it triggered a spam filter)

  4. Stephen E. Arnold on April 3rd, 2009 9:21 am

    Sperky Undernet,

    Right on. I want vendors to be clear. Simple is not clear.

    Stephen Arnold, April 3, 2009

  5. Daniel Tunkelang on April 3rd, 2009 9:37 am

    “Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
    — Albert Einstein

  6. sperky undernet on April 4th, 2009 2:19 pm

    “The absence of alternatives clears the mind marvelously.”
    – Henry Kissinger

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