Semantic Search and Dolphins

May 2, 2015

Do you remember Dolphin Search? I have some information in my Overflight archive. One Dolphin was a commercial search system. I made a note, “Based on an analysis of dolphin sounds.” I never followed up. I have another reference to an open source search system. Here’s a screenshot I snagged:

Figure 1: The Dolphin search tool allows you to find files and folders by name.

I located one of the gosling’s notes. The main point, “Flakey.”

Dolphins surfaced again (heh heh heh) in a write up with the tsunami of a title “How Dolphins Saved Semantic Search.”

This emergence of dolphins from the pool of information access is fascinating. Here’s the lead paragraph:

“We don’t talk about trust and identity much, it’ll be a good subject to discuss,”Teodora Petkova explained to me over an email. We were discussing my participation at the Sofia SEO Conference 2015 organized by Ognian Mladenov and my keynote opening speech on semantic search.

Yes, directly designed to hook me with a tasty morsel of bait or snare me in a mile long drag net.

I had to wait until the sixth paragraph to get to the dolphin and semantic search bobber.

I’d read about the Irrawaddy river dolphins while doing some research on human cooperation behavior. The Irrawaddy river is in Myanmar (former Burma) and the local fishermen had managed to find a way to communicate with the river dolphins. More than that the two of them had managed to create a shared language. The dolphins could, through their behavior, tell the fishermen just how big the catch they were bringing in was. The Fishermen would call out to the dolphins as necessary. This is not just cooperative behavior, it is a mutualistic relationship  where both parties work together, sharing the workload so that the burden involved becomes less and the rewards for each, become greater. It is, in other words, contact between two intelligences. Search is similar.

Well, there’s that.

The write up drifts from “semantic” into a haze much like the mist that rises on some mornings from the south facing inlet on Guarujá. Where the write up drifts is the conflation of humanness and semantic search. The metaphor which drifts to mind is the plastic trash and detritus that disfigure beaches.

Well, there’s that.

Toss the chum of search engine optimization into the murky water and what emerges is the dolphin.

I think that this makes perfect sense to a person less wise than Hemmingway’s Old Man in the novella foisted on clueless sea farers in rural Illinois. The logic meshes with warnings like “red sky at morning, sailors take warning” or something similar.

Dolphins seem not to notice the weather. Dolphins do notice fish dangled in front of their noses at Sea World.

With semantic search playing the key part in this fish tale, the question arises, “What the heck does this have to do with information retrieval.”

Empty net. For sure.

Stephen E Arnold, May 2, 2015


One Response to “Semantic Search and Dolphins”

  1. Auto Electronics on May 3rd, 2015 1:29 pm

    Auto Electronics

    Semantic Search and Dolphins : Stephen E. Arnold @ Beyond Search

  • Archives

  • Recent Posts

  • Meta