Taking Time for Search Vendor Limerance

April 18, 2018

Life is a bit hectic. The Beyond Search and the DarkCyber teams are working on the US government hidden Web presentation scheduled this week. We also have final research underway for the two Telestrategies ISS CyberOSINT lectures. The first is a review of the DarkCyber approach to deanonymizing Surface Web and hidden Web chat. The second focuses on deanonymizing digital currency transactions. Both sessions provide attendees with best practices, commercial solutions, open source tools, and the standard checklists which are a feature of  my LE and intel lectures.

However, one of my associates asked me if I knew what the word “limerance” meant. This individual is reasonably intelligent, but the bar for brains is pretty low here in rural Kentucky. I told the person, “I think it is psychobabble, but I am not sure.”

The fix was a quick Bing.com search. The wonky relevance of the Google was the reason for the shift to the once indomitable Microsoft.

Limerance, according to Bing’s summary of Wikipedia means “a state of mind which results from a romantic attraction to another person typically including compulsive thoughts and fantasies and a desire to form or maintain a relationship and have one’s feelings reciprocated.”


Upon reflection, I decided that limerance can be liberated from the woozy world of psychologists, shrinks, and wielders of water witches.

Consider this usage in the marginalized world of enterprise search:

Limerance: The state of mind which causes a vendor of key word search to embrace any application or use case which can be stretched to trigger a license to the vendor’s “finding” system.


This use of the term makes it easy for me to explain, these proprietary enterprise search vendor behaviors:

  • Keyword search as the pivot for serve yourself customer support. The search vendor assertion may skip over specialized systems for chatbots, real time translation of spoken requests for support, etc. The idea is that keyword search is the mule team pulling the unloved wooden wagon of helping a customer who wants his or her hand held.
  • Traditional enterprise search as the platform for business intelligence. The approach typically ignores the components for acquiring specialized content without recourse to third party tools or commissioned programming, real time analytics, etc.
  • Basic search and retrieval applied to résumé analysis in order to figure out which person in an organization knows about a particular topic. These systems are presented as having “smart software” which can make sense of a person’s work history and the often “gilded” explanations of expertise, achievements, and contributions to an employer. The minor issue of “sense making” is assumed to be part of typing in “chemist” and getting a profile of individuals who can deal with nanoengineering of compounds for materials applications as opposed to nanoengineering for biomechanisms.

limerance sleep around

An example of a search vendor’s promiscuous assertions about keyword search.

Limerance is a way to explain why vendors of enterprise search have ranged promiscuously from content management to financial analysis in search of a sustainable source of revenue.

The MBA phrases of “product extensions” or “featuritis” make more sense in the context of a vendor falling in love with whatever new thing strolls down the buzzword avenue.

Search vendors and the consultants supporting the sector natter about artificial intelligence, Big Data, natural language processing, real time content processing, and context aware notifications. The problem is that a proprietary search-centric is not the optimal approach for these fast growth use cases.

What is putting pressure on proprietary search and retrieval system vendors? Three hands turning the screws are:

  • Open source solutions for findability; namely, Lucene and Solr.
  • A history of failure; specifically, the consolidation and implosion of the proprietary search and retrieval sector in the period from 2006 to 2011. Example? Fast Search & Transfer, among others.
  • Momentum. One comedian has observed, “Beavers do what beavers do.” The entertainer’s example is to put five beavers at the top of the Chrysler Building. The beavers will look for a stream and start making a dam out of the furniture. Enterprise search vendors who have proprietary keyword centric solutions have sold their investors on the “vision” of search as the “go to” fix for many business information problems. These vendors are just going to do what search vendors do; that is, pitch search and the one, true solution to information woes.

To sum up, limerance explains why these outfits fall in love with everyth9ing and anything that might be fantasized to generate massive flows of sustainable revenue.

The reality is vendor limerance, not a solution for licensees of proprietary search sold as “beyond search.”

Dorothy Tennov, thank you.

Stephen E Arnold, April 17, 2018




One Response to “Taking Time for Search Vendor Limerance”

  1. Luana Hotten on May 9th, 2018 12:00 am

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