The Philosophy of Semantic Search

May 13, 2015

The article Taking Advantage of Semantic Search NOW: Understanding Semiotics, Signs, & Schema on Lunametrics delves into semantics on a philosophical and linguistic level as well as in regards to business. He goes through the emergence of semantic search beginning with Ray Kurzweil’s interest in machine learning meaning as opposed to simpler keyword search. In order to fully grasp this concept, the author of the article provides a brief refresher on Saussure’s semantics.

“a Sign is comprised of a signifier, or the name of a thing, and the signified, what that thing represents… Say you sell iPad accessories. “iPad case” is your signifier, or keyword in search marketing speak. We’ve abused the signifier to the utmost over the years, stuffing it onto pages, calculating its density with text tools, jamming it into title tags, in part because we were speaking to robot who read at a 3-year-old level.”

In order to create meaning, we must go beyond even just the addition of price tag and picture to create a sign. The article suggests the need for schema, in the addition of some indication of whom and what the thing is for. The author, Michael Bartholow, has a background in linguistics and marketing and search engine optimization. His article ends with the question of when linguists, philosophers and humanists will be invited into the conversation with businesses, perhaps making him a true visionary in a field populated by data engineers with tunnel-vision.

Chelsea Kerwin, May 13, 2014

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


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