December 11, 2013
An article titled The Changing Face of Exploratory Search on Linkedin presents the current trends in search. Exploratory search is distinct from navigational search, the latter searcher-type knows what she is expecting to get in terms of results. An exploratory searcher might know the search criteria but not how many results will meet their criteria, if any. The article claims that while navigational search exploded in the last fifteen years, exploratory search is still nascent.
The trends highlighted in the article include:
1.) Entity-oriented search. Search has moved beyond words as mere strings of text and increasingly focuses on entities that represent people, places, organizations, and topics.
2.) Knowledge graphs. Search is starting to leverage the network of relationships among entities: Google has its knowledge graph; Microsoft has Satori; and networks like LinkedIn and Facebook are fundamentally social graphs of entities.
3.) Search assistance. Google popularized search suggestions nearly a decade ago, using its knowledge of common queries to reduce effort on the part of searchers.
The article goes on to explain what will happen when faceted search (a mixture of entity-oriented and knowledge graph searches) expands, allowing for precision searches. The final step is faceted search combining with search assistance to mold something akin to Facebook’s graph search. The article touts these trends as new, but they sound awfully familiar. Didn’t Inktomi and Endeca approach search in this way in the 1980s? Perhaps this is just old wine in a new semantic bottle.
Chelsea Kerwin, December 11, 2013
November 8, 2013
Search companies come and go faster than a person can type in their query into the search box, so when asked to review FindBiometrics’ biopic on “WCC Smart Search And Match” there, at first, does not seem to be anything that sets it apart from another search company.
WCC Smart Search makes the usual claims about a dedicated staff and how they can build a beneficial business solution using their technology. It was not until we got further into the description that WCC Smart Search comes out as a different player in the game:
“Our customers say WCC Smart Search & Match’s flagship product ELISE offers something no other product on the market can – the ability to search through data just as the human mind would. Using such techniques as bi-directional matching, weighted criteria and gliding scales, ELISE delivers ranked, meaningful results. And even better than the human process, ELISE can return those results in under a second – no matter how big the database, or how many!”
They tout that ELISE can return a result no matter what the query is and the search engine can track all the information. ELISE is a multi-modal platform equipped with smart search and comes with a guarantee to return accurate results. ELISE has been deployed in many fields: border control, healthcare, disaster recovery/missing persons, criminal investigation, and enrollment verification. These are some pretty neat claims and if they have already been used in these fields than ELISE might have something that other search products do not.
Whitney Grace, November 08, 2013
August 29, 2013
An author of a recent post on data integration shared his perspective on the unsung heroes of enterprise IT in his Informatica article “Data Integration and Enterprise Success, A Winning Combination.” Storing, processing, analyzing and sharing data with those who need it in real time is a challenge for many companies as they aim to match their knowledge management process with their business process.
The article discusses an organization recognized with the Ventana Research Leadership Award, awarded to a company that has achieved excellence with Informatica technology. UMASS Memorial Health Care is a recipient who undertook the Cornerstone initiative to transform the way data is used across its medical center, four community hospitals, more than 60 outpatient clinics, and the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
According to the article:
UMASS Memorial Health Care used Informatica to establish a data integration and data quality initiative to incorporate data from its clinical, financial and administrative sources and targets. Using the Informatica technology, they are able to place volatility into the domain of the integration technology, in this case, Informatica. This allows the integration administrator to add or delete systems as needed, and brings the concept of agility to a rapidly growing hospital system.
Data integration is a key step in the process towards enabling the true power behind semantic search. For this reason, it is a clever move to implement business intelligence solutions that can draw from a myriad of content types and source applications — like Cogito from Expert System.
Megan Feil, August 29, 2013
August 16, 2013
Is patenting search, a fundamental tool for users, the same as trying to trademark crust less peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? No, not if you just invent a new technology to improve the common feature. Techzone360 takes a look at the first search patent to be issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office in five years in, “SearchYourCloud Awarded US Patent For Improve Search Engine Results.” Simplexo was given a patent for “Improved Search Engine-offers unprecedented search capabilities for users by leveraging Boolean and semantic search technologies to deliver enhanced search results.” Okay, so why is this important? Take apart the technical language and Simplexo offers a product that will search across clouds and its content, a better mobile design and security, improved Boolean search, and repetitive information reduction.
CTO of Simplexo Simon Bain had this to say:
“’The Improved Search Engine patent confirms SearchYourCloud as a leader in the search and application space and puts users in control of their data. SearchYourCloud’s technology enhances users’ productivity and lets users find and secure their data in one, fast step. Unlike other search engines our applications can find emails with a ‘to’ and ‘from’ name, and subject or content body without the user having to type in too many different search boxes. It can also find content from more than one source effortlessly and de-duplicate the results.’”
The demands on search engines are getting bigger and it is about time the expectations are met. It has not been decided how Simplexo will package its software, but expect it to change the way we search.
Whitney Grace, August 16, 2013
June 25, 2013
Notice the ‘search by voice’ function on your Google search bar? Well, that has been there for almost two years now so it is about time. However, you may have noticed something different about its functionality. Once you speak to it, it speaks back to you directly with an answer. Search Engine Land covers this new development in “Google’s Impressive ‘Conversational Search’ Goes Live on Chrome.”
The author of this article acknowledges that that’s cool and impressive, speaking a search and getting an answer read back to you. However, this is the really cool aspect:
“What’s really special is that you can continue your search “conversation” by asking further questions in a way you could never do with regular search, by making use of pronouns and other shortcuts that reference things in your previous query. For example, after doing the search above, I asked, ‘how tall is he’ and got back this: ‘Barack Obama is six feet one inch tall,’ came back the spoken response, along with a text answer. But I hadn’t asked tall Barack Obama was. I’d asked, ‘How tall is he.’
We wonder what audience these feats are impressing: professional researchers, dabblers, advertisers? Who really benefits from this?
Megan Feil, June 25, 2013
April 3, 2013
A recent piece from the MIT Technology Review that examines “The Rare Disease Search Engine That Outperforms Google” compares apples with oranges. The real takeaway is much bigger than a swipe at Google—that technical innovation is being used to help humanity.
Rare diseases are notoriously difficult to diagnose, and medical professionals have been using an Internet search engine, usually Google, to help with the process for years. Of course, Google was not designed for that use, so researchers have created a tailor-made engine to streamline this difficult but essential task. The article informs us:
“Radu Dragusin at the Technical University of Denmark and a few pals unveil an alternative. These guys have set up a bespoke search engine dedicated to the diagnosis of rare diseases called FindZebra, a name based on the common medical slang ["zebra"]for a rare disease. After comparing the results from this engine against the same searches on Google, they show that it is significantly better at returning relevant results.”
Is this supposed to be a surprise? Google does ads, not rare diseases. Ah well, the important thing is that doctors have a powerful new tool to help folks with diseases that stoutly defy accurate identification. How did the team from the Technical University of Denmark do it? The write-up goes on to say:
“The magic sauce in FindZebra is the index it uses to hunt for results. These guys have created this index by crawling a specially selected set of curated databases on rare diseases. . . . They then use the open source information retrieval tool Indri to search this index via a website with a conventional search engine interface. The result is FindZebra.”
Though the zebra engine is still an in-progress research project, the team has made it publically available at www.findzebra.com. Medical professionals can already use the innovation to help patients who might otherwise be doomed to years of painful frustration. Hooray, progress!
Cynthia Murrell, April 03, 2013
March 25, 2013
Google, Bing, and DuckDuckGo are the preliminary search engines users turn to for locating information. One of the problems, even with advanced search options, is sifting through the search results. Any search expert will tell you if the desired information is not in the first or second page of results, users move on. Does this call for a specialization in search engines? It just might for a subject as all encompassing as movies. MoreFlicks searches through the popular video streaming Web sites:Hulu, Netflix, Vudu, Fox, Crackel, and BBC iPlayer for movies and TV Shows.
It takes a page out of Google’s book by displaying basic facts about a movie or show: summary, genre, release date along with where it can be viewed online. Search results can be sorted by genre, most popular, new arrivals, and what is soon expiring. It will come in hand when you are searching for an obscure title. Downsides are that it only browses through legal channels. YouTube has been given the boot for these results. MoreFlicks is a niche search engine, possibly the lovechild of Google and IMDB, but how long it stays depends on content relevance or until Google snaps it up. Zeus eating Athena anyone?
Whitney Grace, March 25, 2013
February 18, 2013
Have you ever heard of Funnelback? Probably not, unless you are a search expert or come from the land down under. While the search experts are at work, allow me to explain a bit more about Funnelback. It is an enterprise and Web site search that sports an algorithm that can be tweaked to reflect a user’s customizable search results, editable search parameters, and a development platform for multimedia, e-commerce, e-mail media alerts, and plagiarism detection systems. The last option is one of the reasons Funnelback has gained a huge following in Australian universities.
If you are searching for a prime Funnelback experience, check out the University of Melbourne’s Web site with its “Find An Expert” search engine. The Funnelback “Find An Expert” searches through the university’s staff and faculty directory and retrieves experts related to the user’s keyword. In our example, we searched for “politics” and the results yielded 232 experts. Department, types of politics, and topics on politics, can filter the results. What makes Funnelback more entertaining than Google is that it creates a “capability map” aka a visual representation of the search results and how they connect with each other. The capability can be manipulated by filtering out or including other results.
Funnelback demonstrates that search can be entertaining and intelligent. When will Google add this to their search results page?
Whitney Grace, February 18, 2013
February 11, 2013
Search Technologies introduced “Solr Lucene Relevancy Tuning.” Search Technologies will supply services to improve the relevancy of results within an existing Solr/Lucene implementation. If the service works as advertised, this could be a boon to many organizations awash with extraneous data. The announcement explains:
This engagement will provide powerful relevancy ranking improvements in an existing Solr installation. This includes setting up a basic system for relevancy evaluation, based on a set of sample queries, so that improvements can be quantitatively measured. Additions to the default relevancy formula in Solr Lucene can dramatically improve search results, solving many of the most thorny relevancy problems including:
- Reducing the impact of peripheral content (sidebars, ads, tangential discussions, etc.)
- Automatically handling word phrases in a flexible manner, reducing the need to use complex query constructions to obtain good search results.”
The Search Technologies’ solution changes the default Solr/Lucene functionality, which can overemphasize document size and term frequency. Search Technologies’ new Parameterized Document Similarity Function provides more control over these formulas through configurable parameters. The company’s Gradient Proximity Boost operator eliminates the need to tweak Solr/Lucene’s default “hard window,” the term-proximity parameters which can trigger a document boost. The method does this by measuring the density and completeness of terms across each document, gradually boosting documents in which terms cluster.
The post identifies the expected engagement tasks and deliverables associated with this software. The only pre-requisite listed is the presence of a working Solr /Lucene system with already-indexed documents. The firm promises ongoing maintenance and support services, including an optional round-the-clock support package.
Founded in 2005, Search Technologies bills themselves as the largest (independent) IT services company dedicated to search-engine implementation, consulting, and managed services. Staffed with veterans of the search field, the company prides itself on innovation. Search Technologies is headquartered in Herndon, Virginia, and maintains two other U.S. offices as well as locations in Berkshire, U.K., and San Jose, Costa Rica.
Ken Toth, February 11, 2013
January 23, 2013
While many companies may see corporate retreats as an obvious place to cut spending, co-founder and chief executive of Search Technologies believes retreats are some of the most valuable investments made by the company. In the Washington Post article “Value Added: This Herndon Search Company Found its Perfect Retreat in Costa Rica,” we learn about how Kamran Khan of Search Technologies believes corporate retreats are crucial to the success of his growing business. The most recent off-site cost $100,000 in company money and took place in highly-educated and tech-savvy Costa Rica.
The article explains the importance:
“Khan, who started Search Technologies in 2005, said it’s the only time when everyone in the company — including the management team — can be in one place. Khan uses the chance to address his 100-person staff, informing them of how the company is doing and outlining the goals for the next year. ‘I prefer to get people together and . . .clarify our strategy, which is very simple: We are going to be experts in the search space.’”
Khan and his team at Search Technologies may be onto something with this plan. Launched in 2005, the company was on track for $18 million in revenue for 2012, and the company’s net profit margin is about 5 percent. The IT services and search implementation software company services the Daily Mail newspaper’s Web site portfolio in Britain and helped Amazon.com launch its new cloud search product. Apparently the secret to success lies in Khan’s philosophy of hiring “good people” and taking beach trips. We have learned that Search Technologies is hiring in anticipation of further growth during 2013.
Andrea Hayden, January 23, 2013