Mobile Search: Pervasiveness Arrives

December 13, 2018

If you want to order a pizza, there is an app for that. If you want to shop for clothing, there is an app for that. If you want to design an app, there is an app for that and if you want to search on your mobile device you have to use an app…until now. VentureBeat shares that there is a new way to search on mobile devices without having to open an app: “SwiftKey Now Lets You Search The Web From The Android Keyboard App.”

SwiftKey, a Microsoft owned company, invented a new way to search on mobile devices, specifically Android phones. The SwiftKey is a keyboard app that allows users to type quicker on touch screens and now they can search the Internet directly from the keyboard. SwiftKey also users predictive analytics to make suggestions and they can swipe over letters instead of having to individually touch them. It is powered by Bing search, not a surprise.

“The update seems to be mostly about enabling users to share content they find on the web without having to switch between multiple apps on their phone. For example, you can search for local restaurants inside SwiftKey and give friends recommendations by screenshotting, cropping, and sharing the results. Or let’s say a friend sends a message asking you to look into some flight options for an upcoming trip. Rather than switching from WhatsApp to Google or SkyScanner, you can simply bring up the little toolbar at the top of the keyboard, enter your flight criteria, and share what you find through WhatsApp without leaving the service.”

Another handy feature is if a user types in a URL into the search box and takes them directly to the Web site over a search results list.

The SwiftKey is competition for Google’s GBoard. It streamlines mobile search by taking out some of the clunky steps, but it is going to have issues before it is perfected.

Whitney Grace, December 13, 2018

French Wash Out Google. Recruit Qwant

December 10, 2018

Last year, we took note when the privacy-centric search engine Qwant, a French and German company, declared its intention to take on Google for internet search dominance. Now, The Sun reports, “France Declares War on Google as Military Replaces Search Engine with ‘Untrackable’ Qwant.” Apparently, officials feel their nation’s very (digital) independence is at risk. Reporter Felix Allen writes:

“[Member of Parliament] Florian Bachelier said: ‘We have to set the example. Security and digital sovereignty are at stake here, which is anything but an issue only for geeks.’ He chairs the National Assembly’s cybersecurity and digital sovereignty taskforce, which was set up in April to protect firms from hackers and end France’s reliance on foreign tech giants. Officials and politicians are said to be very concerned with the dominance of US and Chinese firms and the concept of ‘digital sovereignty,’ including a country’s control over its citizens data, reports Wired. 2013 report warned France and the EU risked becoming ‘digital colonies’ in the wake of the Snowden revelations on NSA spying.”

French officials are alarmed by the tendency for U.S.-based tech companies to play fast and loose with users’ personal information. President Macron is working to put laws into place that will prevent breaches like the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal from impacting French citizens. Or, at least, penalize the responsible companies when they do.

Based in Paris, Qwant was founded on May Day, 2011. After two years of R&D, the search engine itself was launched in 2013. Keep in mind that Qwant’s roots reach back even farther in time to the Pertimm system.

Cynthia Murrell, December 10, 2018

Visual Search Gets Personal

December 7, 2018

The steps made in visual search are many and well-advertised, so it should come as no surprise we have news. What might be surprising, is that you could be part of this latest development by Google. We learned more in a troubling and fascinating story in recent Venture Beat story, “Google Makes Dataset of 50 Million Drawings Available on its Cloud.”

According to the story, Google’s cloud sourced AI drawing game, Quick Draw, is turning out to be less time-killer and more data collector:

Quick Draw has collected more than 1 billion drawings across 345 categories, 50 million of which Google open-sourced last year — complete with metadata, including prompts and geographical user locations. Today, it’s making them available through Google Cloud Platform (GCP) in the form of an API and an accompanying Polymer component.”

This is a really odd development for a tool that most people never realized would be made public and mined for data. However, when it comes to anything visual, one should not be surprised by Google’s ultimate goal. Currently, they are fine-tuning their visual search tools and we have a hunch this is part of the big picture. Search by talking, search by drawing—next up mental telepathy?

Patrick Roland, December 7, 2018

Academic Semantic Search Needs To Go Beyond Text Results

December 4, 2018

A little over a decade ago, search engines only returned Web sites in their results. That has since stopped and search engines now offer a variety of results, images, videos, news, services, products for sale, and (of course) the traditional links. Users expect accurate, relevant, and updated search results. When you step into the academic database world, however, search goes back to the basic text results. Semantic search offers so much more than Web links and citations. GeekWire shares that academia might finally be catching up with its commercial counterparts in the article, “AI2’s Semantic Scholar Spices Up Academic Search Engine With Blogs, Videos And More.”

The Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI2) developed the Semantic Scholar AI-based search engine to search through academic research for the best and most relevant results. AI2 has indexed more than forty-million research papers and now their algorithms will index slide presentations, blogs, news articles, videos, social media, and more, adding them to Semantic Scholar.

Semantic Scholar hopes to bridge the gap between old-fashioned academic databases and the new information and media types not available in the traditional database.

“If a particular paper happens to spark a lot of news articles and blog posts, that doesn’t affect Semantic Scholar’s ranking of the paper’s scientific quality. But those extra resources could help researchers using Semantic Scholar get a better understanding of the paper’s scientific point. For example, a recently published study traced the impact that sugar and artificial sweeteners could have on strokes or dementia. The study hasn’t been out long enough to spark follow-up research, but Semantic Scholar serves up dozens of reports specifically about the findings. ‘We are crossing the chasm between academic papers and more popular media to facilitate a new and smarter way to do science,’ Oren Etzioni, AI2’s CEO, explained in a news release.”

Can Semantic Scholar make headway in the search market as incumbents like Ebsco and LexisNexis, among other, battle to keep newcomers at bay?

Whitney Grace, December 3, 2018

HP Autonomy: Back in the News

December 2, 2018

I read “Ex-Autonomy boss Mike Lynch, finance VP Stephen Chamberlain charged with fraud in US.” The main point is that Mike Lynch (founder of Autonomy) and an officer of Autonomy have been charged with fraud in the US. The allegations of fraud are a consequence of Hewlett Packard’s purchase of Autonomy in 2011 for $11 billion. Autonomy was a company engaged in licensing its information processing technology. The $11 billion price tag was, I believe, the most paid for an information retrieval company. HP subsequently decided that it had to write down $8 billion of the purchase price because Autonomy was not generating the type of revenue HP anticipated. The story provides a run down of some of the highlights of this remarkable purchase and the subsequent legal disputes and allegations about the deal. Beyond Search does not have a horse in this race.

Several observations can be offered from rural Kentucky:

  1. HP paid a significant amount of money, and it appears it did not understand the business of information retrieval, its revenue potential, or the mechanism for maintaining the accounts
  2. HP subsequently split into two companies and wound down its software businesses apparently realizing that the company had to reinvent itself
  3. Management change at HP has been once characteristic of the company. This in itself may have resulted in HP not doing its homework and checking the match before handing over the check for the deal.

interesting case study with a number of key business issues in play; for example, What did the accountants and auditors do? and What management consulting firms worked on the market analysis for the Autonomy suite of tools?

Interesting with more to come. And don’t forget: My team did some small research projects for Autonomy because it was in the search business, and I was once informed about that business sector. But $11 billion? Quite a valuation.

Stephen E Arnold, December 2, 2018

Baidu May Force Google to Do Search the Chinese Way

November 22, 2018

China has famously strict internet policies. The world’s largest population also is known to have the world’s largest firewall, preventing net freedom. However, that doesn’t mean search there is stuck in the stone age. In fact, it’s quite profitable, as we discovered in a recent Quertime story, “The 20 Most Popular Search Engines in China.”

According to the story:

“The search engine market in China has maintained an overall stable growth. As a matter of fact, during the last quarter of 2012, various search engines have earned about $8 billion RMB. By the third quarter of 2014, it reached more than $15 billion RMB, which presented more than 50% increase in just a period of two years.”

Tops on their list was not Google, but Baidu. While you might have vaguely heard of it, it’s a name you should pay attention to. Baidu is mentioned in concert with other Chinese tech giants, like Alibaba. Recently, it was chosen as a strong stock to purchase alongside the Chinese Amazon, which should tell you quite a lot. There is undoubtedly a tech boom happening in Asia now and it’s the smart investor who can find a way to tap into a little of that magic while it is hot.

Patrick Roland, November 22, 2018

Cloudtenna for Combined Cloud and Local Search

November 16, 2018

Here’s a claim we’ve heard before: ZDNet declares, “Find a File Anywhere: Cloudtenna Targets Local and Cloud File Search.” Writer Robin Harris begins by describing the problem this upgrade addresses—an increasing number of cloud storage locations, combined with on-premise servers, make good search solutions even more challenging to build. Startup Cloudtenna is now expanding their cloud search engine, DirectSearch. Harris writes:

“The new product adds a machine learning platform that find files across disparate platforms, including Dropbox, Box, Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive, Outlook, Gmail, Slack, Atlassian JIRA and Confluence, and local file servers. You can search on name, sender, date, file type, keyword, content, and other attributes regardless of where the file is located. That’s a lot, but it’s not the hard part. Nor is respecting file permissions, meaning that users can’t access files they aren’t supposed too. The hard part is doing this and delivering sub-second response times, even when thousands of users are searching across billions of files stored on dozens of repositories.”

Machine learning and a lightweight crawler (that collects metadata instead of files themselves) are strengths of the new platform. The company was understandably tight-lipped about the tech behind their cloudy search prowess, but they did release this tidbit:

“It uses real-time binding to build its file index and then performs consistency checks to capture deltas, such as a security change or a deleted file. File deduplication and ACL crunching reduces data required by the index, significantly reducing storage costs and requirements.”

A new OEM partner program helps users embed DirectSearch into existing platforms, and Cloudtenna offers a free, three-month account as a trial for potential users. Based in Sunnyvale, California, the company was founded in 2013.

Cynthia Murrell, November 15, 2018

Big Data NLP Search Engine

November 10, 2018

Adding natural language processing to big data search engines is not new, but new advances related to the technology are something to watch. Beta News reports that there are, “New Tools Bring Natural Language Search To Big Data.” The opener tells us something we have known for years: that organizations need quick, easy, and accurate search engines and if you do not have them it hinders business. The visual analytics company Arcadia Data has a new business information and analytics search tool in its enterprise suite Arcadia Enterprise.

Arcadia Data describes its new search tool akin to DuckDuckGo, Google, or Bing, except in an enterprise shell. All of the prior listed search engines use natural language processing in their search queries and return search results with quick and decent accuracy. The Arcadia Enterprise search tool responds to natural language questions and responds with visualizations based on size data sets. The Arcadia Enterprise search will also include:

“Features include AI-driven type-ahead and suggestion capabilities that recommend related questions users may be interested in. Arcadia Enterprise also scores questions against all datasets in the system. The best answer is displayed immediately, and a list of other possible answers with lower scores are shown as well. As users click on alternative answers, the system learns that those results are potentially more relevant to the typed question. Users can start with a simple search bar and then as they become more familiar with the system move into a detailed set of advanced BI interfaces to build and deploy data applications.”

Arcadia Data is offering a search tool that will be beneficial in a BI enterprise system and is necessary given the reliance on technology.

Whitney Grace, September 10, 2018

Does Search Mean Bias?

November 7, 2018

As CEOs from Facebook, Twitter, and the like get paraded before Washington, one company has been suspiciously absent: Google. The search giant is in a tough spot and much of it stems from how uneven trust is in government for its product. We learned more in a recent Axios story, “Exclusive Poll: Big GOP Majority Fears Bias in Search Engines.”

According to the story:

“The survey shows that tech companies will have a hard time convincing the public that their algorithms aren’t built to favor any point of view, regardless of the reality. The distrust is driven largely by the right, but a significant minority of independents believe the results are biased toward the left, too.”

This lack of clarity and trust in Washington might seem laughable on the surface. But this epidemic of “fake news” could have real business implications for search and social tech companies. For example, the FCC is now looking into greater oversight into all three. If Republican lawmakers had trust in these institutions, you can bet they wouldn’t be cracking down as hard. Clearly, these companies have some PR work to do, and fast. Otherwise, they might be drowning in new regulations.

Patrick Roland, November 7, 2018

Google Search Tips List

November 6, 2018

Another Google Search Tip List Fails

Listicles are popular articles, because they can be easily digest, curated, and take huge advantage of ad placement if you put the listed information on separate pages. One type of listicle that always pops up is how to get the best out of your Google search and the search results. The Teche Blog adds its own post to the Google tips archive with “Customize The Date Range Of Your Search And 10 More Use Google Tips.”

The article starts with a Google history tidbit:

“Most know that Google was founded in 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin while they were Ph.D. students at Stanford University, California, but did you know that the company has also experimented with becoming an Internet carrier? That’s right, in February 2010, Google Fiber was announced, a fiber-optic infrastructure that was installed in Kansas City; while in April 2015, it launched Project Fi in the United States, combining Wi-Fi and cellular networks from different providers; and in 2016, it announced the Google Station initiative to make public Wi-Fi available around the world, with initial deployment in India.”

The search tips in the post are either useless or already known. For instance, the wildcard asterisk * tip to replace words you don not know is as old as the Internet as is the next tip about putting a word in quotes for the exact phrase. It also tells readers about how Google can define words, convert measurements, track flights, flip a coin, and exclude specific keywords. UGH!

There are a few useful tips, such as how to search for a specific file type: [keywords] filetype:[filetype], search within a specific Web site: site:[Web site] [keywords], and related Web sites: related: [Web site].

These tips, however, are outdated, old fashioned, and most people already know them. Try something a little more robust next time.

Whitney Grace, November 6, 2018

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