XML Carnage

January 31, 2011

We noted “Learning from our Mistakes: The Failure of OpenID, AtomPub, and XML on the Web.” What caught our attention was this steemtn:

So next time you’re evaluating a technology that is being much hyped by the web development blogosphere, take a look to see whether the fundamental assumptions that led to the creation of the technology actually generalize to your use case. An example that comes to mind that developers should consider doing with this sort of evaluation given the blogosphere hype is NoSQL.

The article points out that the enthusiasm for OpenID, AtomPub, and XML for “the Web” has cooled. What looks like the next big think, I concluded, may not be.

What are the implications for search and content processing vendors?

For those who don’t know what the three technologies are or do, the answer is, “Not much.” Many vendors handle security, intakes, and formats via connectors. I wrote a for fee column about the importance of connectors, filters, and code widgets that make one outfit’s proprietary or tricky file formats easily tappable / importable by anothre vendor’s system. I know that you have been following the i2 Ltd. and Palantir legal hassle closely. If you haven’t, you can get some color in the stories in www.inteltrax.com and my for fee columns.

But, if you are a vendor who has a big investment in one or more of these technologies, the loss of “enthusiasm”—if the source article is accurate—could mean higher costs. Here’s why:

  1. The marketing positioning and collateral will have to be adapted. Probably not a big deal in the pre-crash days, but now this is a cost and it can be a time sink. Not good when pressure for sales goes up each day. One vendor told me, “We’re really heads down.” No kidding. I don’t think it is work; I think it is survival. A marketing distraction is not a positive.
  2. Credibility with some customers may be eroded. If you beat a drum for one or more of these three technologies, the client assumes that everyone likes the rhythm. Articles that suggest three “next big things” are really three day old brook trout may beg for air freshener.
  3. Partners who often just buy the software vendors’ pitches have invested. Now those investments may not have the type of value one associates with certifiation from Microsoft or the sheer staying power of a wild and crazy push by IBM or Oracle. If partners bail out, recovery can be difficult in some markets.

Worth reading the article and thinking about its implications for search and content processing vendors. Might not ruffle your features; could tear off a wing.

Stephen E Arnold, January 31, 2011

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Bing-Yahoo: Seemed Like a Good Idea

January 31, 2011

Matt Rosoff at Business Insider looks at the results of the Bing- Yahoo union in “Bing Deal with Yahoo Isn’t Paying Off for Microsoft So Far.”

When Microsoft and Yahoo struck their ten- year deal in July ’09, expectations were high. Microsoft would control and process search information, and Yahoo would keep the lion’s share of the revenue. Also, Microsoft would collect user information which should have attracted enough advertisers to make the enterprise worthwhile.

However, the revenue has failed to meet those expectations. Data from the last quarter of 2010 show a 6 cent profit for every dollar Microsoft spent on customer acquisition. Ah, the best laid plans. . . .

Microsoft has not lost hope, however. As Rosoff explains:

“In the long run, Microsoft hopes that the combined market share of Bing and Yahoo will get more advertisers into the system, increasing cost-per-click. The extra data for all those new Yahoo users should also help Microsoft target its ads more effectively.”

We’ll see how that goes. When we run Web searches, we turn to such outfits as DuckDuckGo.com and Blekko.com. Daily we think, “Hey, Facebook. Roll out that search engine.”

Cynthia Murrell January 31, 2011

Whither SAP and Project Argo?

January 31, 2011

On Friday, I had a chat with a flashy New York investment type. The topic was SAP. Apparently the Harvard MBA saw an old write up I did for the now disappeared Information World Review. (If anyone knows about this publication, let me know, please. My last column fell into a black hole. Sigh. Publishers.)

The flashy MBA had heard about Project Argo. The question, “What’s up?” My answers was: “I have no idea.” I poked around the Overflight junk bin and realized that after 2007, it seems to have dropped off the open source radar. The disappearance of a search engine or a publication is nothing new, of course. I found it interesting.

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Where is Project Argo?

I wanted to capture the few items of information I had about SAP’s Project Argo, so if I get a similar question in three or four years, I won’t have to dig through so much digital detritus.

Some “facts” from open sources:

  1. Argo, a search system from the same outfit with TREX, became available for download in 2006. There was some chatter on message boards about the system’s requirements, but I found no information indicating that it swept the SAP world with excitement. The preview version disappeared in the middle of 2007.
  2. According to “The State of SAP xApps”, Project Argo was part of xApps. What are/were xApps? I think there were “composite” applications. I think this means “federating” methods so users could look one place for information.
  3. The focus was, according to “SAP to Add Enterprise Search with Project Argo” was, software that “extends SAP enterprise search to connect to Web services. A generic Web service that invokes search services such as Google is included in the beta version, according to information obtained from the SAP Developer Network Web site. Argo gives end users one central entry point to search company information from various data sources. With a single search query, users can use desktop widgets, browsers, e-mail and mobile devices to tap into company data from multiple sources.”

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Search Innovators Wanted. Cash Awaits!

January 31, 2011

There are more search entrepreneurs than we can track. Just last week we had a conversation with a self-proclaimed “expert” in next generation search. The system was so secret that we had no idea what it did. Then we got a weird phone call wanting to know if the goslings would talk with the self-proclaimed expert’s dad. Well, we walked away from that sort of craziness. Wow.

If you are a search entrepreneur and no one at Beyond Search will speak with you, then you want to know about MITRE’s unusual program. If you don’t know much about MITRE, well, you will want to do a little home work. We love the outfit, having been in a MITRE office for money several years ago. You can do your own home work here.

DcTechSource.com spreads the word about an important initiative in “MITRE Launches Challenge: Invites Ideas from Industry, Academia, and Individuals.” A not-for-profit, MITRE provides crucial support to the federal government. It’s looking for innovative minds in it’s MITRE Challenge, a contest to provide solutions to specific problems:

” ‘I’m excited about tapping into the best minds to uncover solutions to real-world challenges facing federal government agencies,’ said Keith J. Miller, principal artificial intelligence engineer and project leader of the Challenge. ‘. . . Our hope is that the spirit of collegial competition will fast-track the development of critical innovations.’ “

The first challenge, scheduled to end sometime this spring, could be just the ticket for some search and data fusion vendors. The goal is to create multicultural name matching software, which could help with everything from managing no-fly lists to reuniting families after a disaster. Details can be found here.

We’re curious to see what MITRE will do with these insights once each phase of the contest is over. If you know the self-proclaimed expert, maybe his dad will fill you in. The family obviously knows everything about everything.

Cynthia Murrell January 31, 2011

Arnold Columns for February 2011

January 31, 2011

The ArnoldIT.com team has completed Stephen E Arnold’s for-fee columns for February 2011. These articles will run any time between mid-February 2011 and the end of April 2011. Print publications have longer production processes. Online versions of the columns may appear at different intervals.

This months’ topics by journal, tabloid, or online magazine are:

  • For Enterprise Technology Management, the column talks about Google and its compound documents. Quite a search and retrieval challenge brewing we think. We don’t have an answer to searching compound documents when legal discovery kicks in, but we raise some questions for US readers or no US companies with offices in the USA.
  • For Information Today, this month’s column takes a look at discovery services that have moved from the Department of Defense to a library near you. Our focus is on EBSCO, a giant in the commercial database and information services world. Librarians will like this write up.
  • For KMWorld, the column talks about the semantic challenges of the new content types. We highlight Expert System, an Italian outfit with some nifty semantic technology.
  • For Searcher Magazine, we took our 1999 essay about Internet video, critiqued it and identified our errors. Then we looked at what seems to be the trajectory of today’s Internet video options. The question we answer, “Is Internet video viable yet?” Yes, we discuss Google TV. Wow, what a product.
  • For Smart Business Network, “Groupon: The Social Coupon Revolution.” The write up describes Groupon.com, mentions Living Social, and references Google’s forthcoming social coupon service, Google Offers. The column explains what businesses are more likely to succeed with social coupons and which are more likely to achieve unsatisfactory results.

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Question the Cloud, Question the Experts

January 31, 2011

InfoWorld’s Bill Snyder’s “Beware the Fool’s Gold in the Heated Mobile and Cloud Predictions.” is an in depth analysis of Gartner’s rosy predictions. Finally, a real news publications questions azure chip consultants’ estimates. Let’s hope the critical thinking continues. If you are not familiar with the lingo of Beyond Search, “azure chip” is shorthand for  low- or mid-tier consultants, consulting firms that hire retired “experts”, and unemployed journalists, English majors, and Web masters. Each of these groups position themselves as experts, and the knowledge-challenged farm yard animals gobble up the corn and kitchen scraps. Beyond Search has lots of English major and other no-good varmints as well, but, hey, we have to have some fun, don’t we?

Cloud computing and mobile apps are hot topics right now, as Gartner’s research has found. In fact, as portable tools, they go well together.

Though respectful of Gartner, Snyder warns against sinking too much time and money into transitioning to the cloud just yet, especially since analysts have observed inhibited server virtualization.

With regard to mobile applications, there is no doubt that downloads are up and will continue to rise. However, since most are free and the rest are about a dollar, revenue will only be so juicy.

Snyder summarizes the issues:

“I don’t question the trend, but I do question the rate of change. As I’ve said before, the PC era isn’t over — yet — and neither is the day of the enterprise app. We’re certainly moving away from the old paradigms and business models. You’d be blind not to see that. But it’s all too easy to see theoretical money pouring from the skies. . . . Stay skeptical — and beware fool’s gold.”

This article is full of stats to back up Snyder’s opinion. Be sure to check it out.

Cynthia Murrell January 31, 2011

Business Intelligence Revolution. Really?

January 30, 2011

Gartner Predicts Business Intelligence Revolution” reports on the four key trends that Gartner predicts for BI.  One: a 33% rise in BI tools on handheld devices by 2013 / shift to dedicated mobile analytic applications by 2012.  Two: 40% of BI spending on systems integrators by 2014.  Three: 15% of all BI tool deployments containing social software/collaboration elements in their decision-making environments by 2013.  Four: 30% of analytic applications becoming more proactive and predictive in their forecasts and using in-memory functionality to increase scale and computational speeds by 2014.  Not exactly earth-shaking, and others are commenting that these numbers are too conservative.  “Roger Llewellyn, chief executive of BI and analytics firm Kognitio, argued that Gartner’s estimates are too cautious, and that the rise in the use of BI within other areas of businesses will drive the use of new systems.”  Llewellyn says the 30% of analytic applications using in-memory functions figure should be more like a “surge.”  As most of these developments have been around for a while, I would tend to agree.  Same old wine, new blue chipped bottle. We have heard this before. In fact, one big dog search firm won’t use the phrase “business intelligence”. Good idea that. I don’t know what business intelligence is. Do you?

Alice Wasielewski, January 30, 2011

InQuira Publishes Application Sheets

January 30, 2011

Search vendors are trying to figure out how to cope with free search (Lucene/Solr), bundling of okay systems with other enterprise software (Microsoft, Oracle), and lower cost search systems (dtSearch, Fabasoft). InQuira’s approach has been to craft specific info sheets and make them available on at least one Web site we track, ITVerdict. Here’s a run down of the info sheets for the InQuira NLP content processing system:

These are verticalizing write ups. Most search and content processing systems position themselves as a platform or a framework. The idea is that once the system is in place solving one problem such as customer support, then that search system can be used for other problems. Well, sometimes the client does not feel comfortable using a smaller firm’s technology as the foundation for big applications. For the “big” jobs, the licensee falls into the gravitational pull of the IBMs, the Microsofts, or the Oracles of the world. Is this a good choice? Who knows? People want to keep their jobs and working on a system that requires certification is a baby step to becoming indispensible for some folks.

An increasingly popular approach is to just go after ready-to-run vertical solutions. I understand the sales intelligence angle. That’s a bit like business intelligence narrowed to know which sales person is likely to track backlog, close business, or cost in commissions. I am on the fence about the social stuff, mostly because it is expensive to do well and darned fuzzy. With regard to knowledge applications, I want to use the system.

If you are tracking the way search vendors are positioning themselves in 2011, the InQuira approach is interesting. More information about InQuira is at www.inquira.com.

Stephen E Arnold, January 30, 2011

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Kwaga: Search for Email

January 30, 2011

Kwaga provides a solution for mail overload with semantic linguistic technology that works inside your email to recognize and organize the things you need to do.  That means if you have forgotten to answer an email with a request/question, or if someone has neglected to respond to one of your requests/questions, Kwaga will figure this out and remind you. “Kwaga’s Gmail Smart Reminders available in the Chrome Web Store” announces the extension’s availability through Chrome.  I haven’t tried it myself (a Firefox user), but it has gotten some excellent reviews.  If you use Chrome/Gmail and would like to try it out, you can get Kwaga free at the Chrome Web Store.

Alice Wasielewski, January 30, 2011

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Real Time Sentiment

January 29, 2011

Navigate to the French language site TopJournaliste. You can browse the ratings calculated by a numerical recipe. You can leave a comment about a journalist. The idea is that the blend of sentiment analysis and crowd sourcing can provide insight into the behavior of a person with influence. If you don’t know a French journalist, try for Canal Plus’s Emilie Bessek or Jean-March Morandini. Interesting technology applications. We wondered how it would do with contributors to the Huffington Post, the ever accurate New York Times, Harrod’s Creek’s favorite TV channel, Fox News?

Stephen E Arnold, January 29, 2011

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