Recorded Future in the Spotlight: An Interview with Christopher Ahlberg

April 5, 2011

It is big news when In-Q-Tel, the investment arm of the US intelligence community, funds a company. It is really big news when Google funds a company. But when both of these tech-savvy organizations fund a company, Beyond Search has to take notice.

After some floundering around, ArnoldIT was able to secure a one-on-one interview with the founder of Recorded Future. The company is one of the next-generation cloud-centric analytics firms. What sets the company apart technically is, of course, the magnetism that pulled In-Q-Tel and Google to the Boston-based firm.

Mr. Ahlberg, one of the founders of Spotfire which was acquired by the hyper-smart TIBCO organization, has turned his attention to Web content and predictions. Using sophisticated numerical recipes, Recorded Future can make observations about trends. This is not fortune telling, but mathematics talking.

In my interview with Mr. Ahlberg, he said:

We set out to organize unstructured information at very large scale by events and time. A query might return a link to a document that says something like “Hu Jintao will tomorrow land in Paris for talks with Sarkozy” or “Apple will next week hold a product launch event in San Francisco”). We wanted to take this information and make insights available through a stunning user experiences and application programming interfaces. Our idea was that an API would allow others to tap into the richness and potential of Internet content in a new way.

When I probed for an example, he told me:

What we do is to tag information very, very carefully. For example, we add metatags that make explicit when we locate an item of data. We tag when that datum was published. We tag when we analyzed that datum. We also tag when we find it, when it was published, when we analyzed it, and what actual time point (past, present, future) to which the datum refers. The time precision is quite important. Time makes it possible for end users and modelers to deal with this important attribute. At this stage in our technology’s capabilities, we’re not trying to claim that we can beat someone like Reuters or Bloomberg at delivering a piece of news the fastest. But if you’re interested in monitoring, for example, the co-incidence of an insider trade with a product recall we can probably beat most at that.

To read the full text of the interview with Mr. Ahlberg click here. The interview is part of the Search Wizards Speak collection of first person narratives about search and content processing. Available without charge on the Web site, the more than 50 interviews comprise the largest repository of first hand explanations of “findability” available.

If you want your search or content processing company featured in this interview series, write seaky2000 at yahoo dot com.

Stephen E Arnold, April 5, 2011



One Response to “Recorded Future in the Spotlight: An Interview with Christopher Ahlberg”

  1. Beyond Search…Recorded Future in the press | Recorded Future Blog on April 5th, 2011 7:50 am

    […] Search…Recorded Future in the press var addthis_product = 'wpp-254'; Check out Recorded Future in the Spotlight: An Interview with Christopher Ahlberg on ArnoldIT. You can read the full text of the interview with Dr. Ahlberg here. The interview is […]

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