Bitvore: The AI, Real Time, Custom Report Search Engine

May 16, 2017

Just when I thought information access had slumped quietly through another week, I read in the capitalist tool which you know as Forbes, the content marketing machine, this article:

This AI Search Engine Delivers Tailored Data to Companies in Real Time.

This write up struck me as more interesting than the most recent IBM Watson prime time commercial about smart software for zealous professional basketball fans or Lucidworks’ (really?) acquisition of the interface builder Twigkit. Forbes Magazine’s write up did not point out that the company seems to be channeling Palantir Technologies; for example, Jeff Curie, the president, refers to employees at Bitvorians. Take that, you Hobbits and Palanterians.

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A Bitvore 3D data structure.

The AI, real time, custom report search engine is called Bitvore. Here in Harrod’s Creek, we recognized the combination of the computer term “bit” with a syllable from one of our favorite morphemes “vore” as in carnivore or omnivore or the vegan-sensitive herbivore.

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Watson and Block: Tax Preparation and Watson

April 19, 2017

Author’s Note:

Tax season is over. I am now releasing a write up I did in the high pressure run up to tax filing day, April 18, 2017, to publish this blog post. I want to comment on one marketing play IBM used in 2016 and 2017 to make Watson its Amazon Echo or its Google Pixel. IBM has been working overtime to come up with clever, innovative, effective ways to sell Watson, a search-and-retrieval system spiced with home brew code, algorithms which make the system “smart,” acquired technology from outfits like Vivisimo, and some free and open source search software.

IBM Watson is being sold to Wall Street and stakeholders as IBM’s next, really big thing. With years of declining revenue under its belt, the marketing of Watson as “cognitive software” is different from the marketing of most other companies pitching artificial intelligence.

One unintended consequence of IBM’s saturation advertising of its Watson system is making the word “cognitive” shorthand for software magic. The primary beneficiaries of IBM’s relentless use of the word “cognitive” has been to help its competitors. IBM’s fuzziness and lack of concrete products has allowed companies with modest marketing budgets to pick up the IBM jargon and apply it to their products. Examples include the reworked Polyspot (now doing business as CustomerMatrix) and dozens of enterprise search vendors; for example, LucidWorks (Really?), Attivio, Microsoft, Sinequa, and Squirro (yep, Squirro). IBM makes it possible for competitors to slap the word cognitive on their products and compete against IBM’s Watson. I am tempted to describe IBM Watson as a “straw man,” but it is a collection of components, not a product.

Big outfits like Amazon have taken a short cut to the money machine. The Echo and Dot sell millions of units and drive sales of Amazon’s music and hard goods sales. IBM bets on a future hint of payoff; for example, Watson may deliver a “maximum refund” for an H&R Block customer. That sounds pretty enticing. My accountant, beady eyed devil if there ever were one, never talks about refunds. He sticks to questions about where I got my money and what I did with it. If anything, he is a cloud of darkness, preferring to follow the IRS rules and avoid any suggestion of my getting a deal, a refund, or a free ride.

Below is the story I wrote a month ago shortly after I spent 45 minutes chatting with three folks who worked at the H&R Block office near my home in rural Kentucky. Have fun reading.

Stephen E Arnold, April 18, 2017

IBM Watson is one of Big Blue’s strategic imperatives. I have enjoyed writing about Watson, mixing up my posts with the phrase “Watson weakly” instead of “Watson weekly.” Strategic imperatives are supposed to generate new revenue to replace the loss of old revenues. The problem IBM has to figure out how to solve is pace. Will IBM Watson and other strategic imperatives generate sustainable, substantial revenue quickly enough to keep the  company’s revenue healthy.

The answer seems to be, “Maybe, but not very quickly.” According to IBM’s most recent quarterly report, Big Blue has now reported declining revenues for 20 consecutive quarters. Yep, that’s five years. Some stakeholders are patient, but IBM’s competitors are thrilled with IBM’s stratgegic imperatives. For the details of the most recent IBM financials, navigate to “IBM Sticks to Its Forecast Despite Underwhlming Results.” Kicking the can down the road is fun for a short time.

The revenue problem is masked by promises about the future. Watson, the smart software, is supposed to be a billion dollar baby who will end up with a $10 billion dollar revenue stream any day now. But IBM’s stock buybacks and massive PR campaigns have helped the company sell its vision of a bright new Big Blue. But selling software and consulting is different from selling hardware. In today’s markets, services and consulting are tough businesses. Examples of companies strugglling to gain traction against outfits like Gerson Lehrman, unemployed senior executives hungry for work, and new graduates will to do MBA chores for a pittance compete with outfits like Elastic, a search vendor which sells add ons to open source software and consulting for those who need it. IBM is trying almost everything. Still those declining revenues tell a somewhat dismal tale.

I assume you have watched the Super Bowl ads if not the game. I just watched the ads. I was surprised to see a one minute, very expensive, and somewhat ill conceived commercial for IBM Watson and H&R Block, the walk in store front tax preparer.

The Watson-Block Super Bowl ad featured this interesting image: A sled going downhill. Was this a Freudian slip about declining revenues?

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Does it look to you that the sled is speeding downhill. Is this a metaphor for IBM Watson’s prospects in the tax advisory business?

One of IBM’s most visible promotions of its company-saving, revenue-gushing dreams is IBM Watson. You may have seen the Super Bowl ad about Watson providing H&R Block with a sure-fire way to kill off pesky competitors. How has that worked out for H&R Block?

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Forrester: Enterprise Content Management Misstep

April 14, 2017

I have stated in the past that mid tier consulting firms—that is, outfits without the intellectual horsepower of a McKinsey, Bain, or BCG—generate work that is often amusing, sometimes silly, and once in a while just stupid. I noted an error which is certainly embarrassing to someone, maybe even a top notch expert at mid tier Forrester. The idea for a consulting firm is to be “right” and to keep the customer (in this case Hyland) happy. Also, it is generally good to deliver on what one promises. You know, the old under promise, over deliver method.

How about being wrong, failing, and not delivering at all? Read on about Forrester and content management.

Context

I noted the flurry of news announcements about Forrester, a bigly azure-chip consulting firm. A representative example of these marketing news things is “Microsoft, OpenText, IBM Lead Forrester’s ECM Wave in Evolving Market.” The write up explains that the wizards at Forrester have figured out the winners and losers in enterprise content management. As it turns out, the experts at Forrester do a much better job of explaining their “perception” of content management that implementing content management.

How can this be? Paid experts who cannot implement content management for reports about content management? Some less generous people might find this a minor glitch. I think that consultants are pretty good at cooking up reports and selling them. I am not too confident that mid tier consulting firms and even outfits like Booz, Allen has dotted their “i’s” and crossed their “t’s.”

Let me walk you through this apparent failure of Forrester to make their reports available to a person interested in a report. This example concerns a Forrester reviewed company called Hyland and its OnBase enterprise content management system.

The deal is that Hyland allows a prospect to download a copy of the Forrester report in exchange for providing contact information. Once the contact information is accepted, the potential buyer of OnBase is supposed to be able to download a copy of the Forrester report. This is trivial stuff, and we are able to implement the function when I sell my studies. Believe me. If we can allow registered people to download a PDF, so can you.

The Failure

I wanted a copy of “The Forrester Wave: ECM Business Content Services.” May I illustrate how Forrester’s enterprise content management system fails its paying customers and those who register to download these high value, completely wonderful documents.

Step 1: Navigate to this link for OnBase by Hyland, one of the vendors profiled in the allegedly accurate, totally object Forrester report

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Step 2: Fill out the form so Hyland’s sales professionals can contact you in hopes of selling you the product which Forrester finds exceptional

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Note the big orange “Download Now” button. I like the “now” part because it means that with one click I get the high-value, super accurate report.

Step 3: Click on one of these two big green boxes:

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I tested both, and both return the same high value, super accurate, technically wonderful reports—sort of.

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Google: The Male Female Thing

April 10, 2017

I have fond memories of my high school’s science club. My hunch is that some Google-type companies do too.

I look back and remember the days of Donald Jackson, who with his brother Bernard, published an article in a peer reviewed astronomy journal. Those guys were fixated on the moon. Go figure.

There was a canny lad named Phil Herbst, who shifted to fuzzy science with his interest in anthropology. Misguided. Anthropology. Who cares about that?

There was Steve Connett, who was into electrical engineering and the goodies which that required his parents to provide.

And the others?Males. Every one of them.

I don’t recall any females in the science club. Super smart Hope Davis, one of the females in my advanced physics class, had perfect pitch, a knack for mathematics, and a well founded disdain for the males in the science club.

My experience with her as a lab partner is that she was smarter than most of the fellows who gathered a couple of times a month to discuss explosives, corrosive chemical compounds, circuits which could terminate certain creatures with a zap, and the other nifty things the dozen or so regulars found fascinating.

Why was science club in the rust belt in 1958 a no go zone for really smart people like Hope Davis?

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My favorite line from the motion picture “Revenge of the Nerds” is, “Nerds.” Poetic.

My answer is that the males in my science club were not exactly hot social items. Although I was the dumbest person in the club, I shared three qualities with the real brainiacs in the group:

  1. Zero awareness of females and their abilities. I was an only child, had zero exposure to females outside of class, and lived within my own weird little world of books and model airplanes
  2. My notion of conversation was my ability to repeat almost anything I read verbatim. (Alas, as I age, that wonderful automatic function does not work as well as it did. But when it was in high gear, absolutely no female in any of my classes wanted to speak with me. Who wanted a fat, nearsighted meatware audio book for a friend?)
  3. I was deeply uncomfortable around anyone not in the odd ball special classes my high school offered for students who seemed to get A grades and did not participate in [a] sports, [b] school governance, [c] social activities like parties and dances, and [d] activities understood by the high school administrators.

I thought of my high school science club when I read “Google Accused of ‘Extreme’ Gender Pay Discrimination by US Labor Department.” I quite like the word “extreme.” Quite charged and suggestive. I learned:

Google has discriminated against its female employees, according to the US Department of Labor (DoL), which said it had evidence of “systemic compensation disparities”.

Making a leap from the particular allegation against Google to a fuzzy swath of California, the real journalists who are struggling with their own demons, states:

The explosive allegation against one of the largest and most powerful companies in Silicon Valley comes at a time when the male-dominated tech industry is facing increased scrutiny over gender discrimination, pay disparities and sexual harassment.

Does the word “extreme” up the ante?

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Alphabet Google Falls on Its Algorithms

March 24, 2017

Here in Harrod’s Creek, advertising is mostly hand painted signs nailed to telephone poles in front of trailer parks.

Real Advertising in Big Cities Does This

In the LED illuminated big cities, people advertise by:

  1. Cooking up some keywords that are used to locate products and services like mesothelioma or cheap tickets
  2. Paying money to the “do no evil” outfit Alphabet Google to put those ads in front of people who are searching (sometimes cluelessly) for a topic related to lung disease or flying to the land of milk and honey for a couple of hundred bucks
  3. Alphabet Google putting the ads in front of humans (or software robots as the case may be) who will click on the displayed message, banner, or video snippet
  4. The GOOG collects the money
  5. The advertiser gets leads
  6. Repeat the process.

The notion, like digital currencies, is based on trust. Advertisers trust or “believe” that the GOOG’s smart software will recognize a search for Madrid will require an airplane ticket and maybe a hotel. The GOOG’s smart software consults the ads germane to travel and displays a relevant ad in front of the human (or software robot as the case may be).

goofed for content

What happens when the GOOG’s smart software does everything except the relevance part?

The reaction in the non Sillycon Valley business world is easy to spot; for example, here are some examples of the consequences of the reality of what the GOOG does versus what advertisers and other true believers in the gospel of Google collides with faith, trust, and hope:

I could list more stories about this sudden discovery that matching ads to queries is not exactly what some people have believed.

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A Famed Author Talks about Semantic Search

February 24, 2017

I read “An Interview with Semantic Search and SEO Expert David Amerland.” Darned fascinating. I enjoyed the content marketing aspect of the write up. I also found the explanation of semantic search intriguing as well.

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This is the famed author. Note the biceps and the wrist gizmos.

The background of the “famed author” is, according to the write up:

David Amerland, a chemical engineer turned semantic search and SEO expert, is a famed author, speaker and business journalist. He has been instrumental in helping startups as well as multinational brands like Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson, BOSCH, etc. create their SMM and SEO strategies. Davis writes for high-profile magazines and media organizations such as Forbes, Social Media Today, Imassera and journalism.co.uk. He is also part of the faculty in Rutgers University, and is a strategic advisor for Darebee.com.

Darebee.com is a workout site. Since I don’t workout, I was unaware of the site. You can explore it at Darebee.com. I think the name means that a person can “dare to be muscular” or “date to be physically imposing.” I ran a query for Darebee.com on Giburu, Mojeek, and Unbubble. I learned that the name “Darebee” does come up in the index. However, the pointers in Unbubble are interesting because the links identify other sites which are using the “darebee” string to get traffic. Here’s the Unbubble results screen for my query “darebee.”

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What I found interesting is the system administrator for Darebee.com is none other than David Amerland, whose email is listed in the Whois record as david@amerland.co.uk. Darebee is apparently a part of Amerland Enterprises Ltd. in Hertfordshire, UK. The traffic graph for Darebee.com is listed by Alexa. It shows about 26,000 “visitors” per month which is at variance with the monthly traffic data of 3.2 million on W3Snoop.com.

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When I see this type of search result, I wonder if the sites have been working overtime to spoof the relevance components of Web search and retrieval systems.

I noted these points in the interview which appeared in the prestigious site Kamkash.com.

On relevance: Data makes zero sense if you can’t find what you want very quickly and then understand what you are looking for.

On semantic search’s definition: Semantic search essentially is trying to understand at a very nuanced level, and then it is trying to give us the best possible answer to our query at that nuanced level of our demands or our intent.

On Boolean search: Boolean search essentially looks at something probabilistically.

On Google’s RankBrain: [Google RankBrain] has nothing to do with ranking.

On participating in Google Plus: Google+ actually allows you to be pervasively enough very real in a very digital environment where we are synchronously connected with lot of people from all over the world and yet the connection feels very…very real in terms of that.

I find these statements interesting.

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Autonomy and Hewlett Packard: A How To from Fortune

January 16, 2017

I read “How Autonomy Fooled Hewlett-Packard.” The article was written by Jack T. Cielsielski, who is president of R.G. Associates, Inc. in Baltimore, Maryland. Mr. Ciesielski’s company publishes “The Analyst’s Accounting Observer, which is described as “a research service for institutional investors.” The company offers this example return on a $1 million investment:

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The caption for the chart is “All performance data is net of advisory fees.  3, 5, 10 year returns are annualized total returns.  Inception is the annualized total return since 12/31/1992.  S&P 500 Total Return sourced from www.standardandpoors.com.  Past performance is not indicative of future results.”

I am not sure if the write up is a Fortune-edited article, a Fortune-commissioned article, or an inclusion in Fortune which an entity purchased. For the purposes of Beyond Search, I will assume that the article is an example of “real” reporting and spot on in its objectivity and accuracy. I recognize that depending on where one sits and the tools and information available will affect what one perceives. This is the viewshed problem, which is illustrated below. Each color shows what the respective observer “sees.”

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I was interested in the write up because the legal dispute between the “old” Hewlett Packard and executives of Autonomy is on going. Obviously neither Mr. Ciesielski  Fortune does not want to find itself in the legal crossfire. My assumption is, therefore, that Fortune’s “real” journalists have figured out some of the nuances of the HP-Autonomy matter. I would point out that these nuances were overlooked or misinterpreted by HP’s executives, Board members, advisers, lawyers, and accountants. Too bad neither HP nor Autonomy had Fortune-caliber experts assisting when the $11 billion deal was conceived, executed, understood, and prosecuted. Some outfits have smarter, more thorough investigators, researchers, and analysts.

The write up points out that the former top dog of Autonomy USA (Christopher Egan) had to pay $800,000 in November 2016 he garnered from the HP buy out. The prime mover in this check writing was the US Securities & Exchange Commission. The Fortune article states:

HP relied on figures he had helped inflate. The facts of the case are now public.

Here’s the method used by Autonomy as reported by Fortune:

Autonomy’s UK-based senior managers directed a program swelling revenues by almost $200 million. Autonomy sold its software through “value-added” resellers, legitimate businesses providing additional services and support to product end users while also selling Autonomy’s software. Just five resellers, in 30 transactions, provided services to Autonomy that couldn’t be called legitimate.

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Yahoot: A Master of Disaster Management

December 16, 2016

I have a Yahoot (sorry, I meant Yahoo) email account. I have refused to change the password in order to see what nefarious behaviors manifest themselves. So far, the only bad guys in the picture are Yahoot’s merrie band of wizards, lead by the Purple Privacy Eater, Marissa Mayer. Ms. Mayer was a Xoogler. Now I am able to paint a mental picture about why she left Googzilla for the outfit Terry Semel tried to convert to a media company. Prescient guy. Get out of online. Do sitcoms.

disaster master

I read “Verizon Demands a Better Deal After Yahoo’s Latest Historic Hack.” The main idea of that write up is that the former Baby Bell wants to do the Trump thing: A better deal. That seems reasonable. Yahoo managed to fumble the security ball, delivering an alleged one billion customers’ details to alleged bad actors. There are even “real” journalists who allege that the Yahooligans’ secrets are for sale on the Dark Web.

And what personal data slipped through the former Googler’s fingers? The write up knows and, therefore, reported:

Yahoo said late on Wednesday [December 14, 2016] that it had uncovered a 2013 cyber attack that compromised data of more than 1 billion user accounts, the largest known breach on record. It said the data stolen may have included names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, hashed passwords and, in some cases, encrypted or unencrypted security questions and answers.

Fortune, whose journalists do not surf the Dark Web like the clever folks at the New York Times, used “real” journalistic methods and revealed:

Verizon is said to have threatened to go to court to get out of the deal if it is not repriced.

There you go. Verizon may be rethinking its clever move to buy the Purple Haze machine for about $5 billion. Knock the price down, and maybe the Baby Bell will [a] ante up some cash, [b]  replace the Xoogler with a person who can keep Yahoot from becoming more of a master of disaster than it is, and [c] blend the wizardry of AOL with the Yahooligans’ approach to technology. In my 73 years, I have not previously witnessed the rubble-ization of a publicly traded Sillycon Valley company in quite this way. Business school case study? For sure.

The real news outfit’s write up adds:

The U.S. No. 1 wireless carrier still expects to go through with the deal, but is looking for “major concessions” in light of the most recent breach, according to another person familiar with the situation.

Will Yahoo enter the online security business? The company now has mind share. Governance? Exemplary management team? Technical chops? That’s a $5 billion dollar question from a company that spurned Microsoft’s even more robust offer. Right, the same outfit which fumbled the pay to play for traffic business. Right now Terry Semel looks like a managerial paragon.

Yahoooot!

Stephen E Arnold, December 16, 2016

The Google: A Real Newspaper Discovers Modern Research

December 4, 2016

I read “Google, Democracy and the Truth about Internet Search.” One more example of a person who thinks he or she is an excellent information hunter and gatherer. Let’s be candid. A hunter gatherer flailing away for 15 or so years using online research tools, libraries, and conversations with actual humans should be able to differentiate a bunny rabbit from a female wolf with baby wolves at her feet.

Natural selection works differently in the hunting and gathering world of online. The intrepid knowledge warrior can make basic mistakes, use assumptions without consequence, and accept whatever a FREE online service delivers. No natural selection operates.

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A “real” journalist discovers the basics of online search’s power. Great insight, just 50 years from the time online search became available to this moment of insight in December 2017. Slow on the trigger or just clueless?

That’s scary. When the 21st century hunter gatherer seems to have an moment of inspiration and realizes that online services—particularly ad supported free services—crank out baloney, it’s frightening. The write up makes clear that a “real” journalist seems to have figured out that online outputs are not exactly the same as sitting at a table with several experts and discussing an issue. Online is not the same as going to a library and reading books and journal articles, thinking about what each source presents as actual factoids.

Here’s an example of the “understanding” one “real” journalist has about online information:

Google is knowledge. It’s where you go to find things out.

There you go. Reliance on one service to provide “knowledge.” From an ad supported. Free. Convenient. Ubiquitous. Online service.

Yep, that’s the way to keep track of “knowledge.”

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Ontotext: The Fabric of Relationships

November 9, 2016

Relationships among metadata, words, and other “information” are important. Google’s Dr. Alon Halevy, founder of Transformic which Google acquired in 2006, has been beavering away in this field for a number of years. His work on “dataspaces” is important for Google and germane to the “intelligence-oriented” systems which knit together disparate factoids about a person, event, or organization. I recall one of his presentations—specifically the PODs 2006 keynote–in which he reproduced a “colleague’s” diagram of a flow chart which made it easy to see who received the document, who edited the document and what changes were made, and to whom recipients of the document forward the document.

Here’s the diagram from Dr. Halevy’s lecture:

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Principles of Dataspace Systems, Slide 4 by Dr. Alon Halevy at delivered on June 26, 2006 at PODs. Note that “PODs” is an annual ACM database-centric conference.

I found the Halevy discussion interesting.

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