November 18, 2013
While this might not be at the top of anyone’s Black Friday shopping list, it is good to know that ‘Thunderstone Offers Version 9 Of The Thunderstone Search Appliance” according to PR Web. Thunderstone is a little known research and development company that prides itself on providing comprehensive intelligent information and retrieval management solutions. One might recognize their Texis software that provides high-grade text retrieval and publishing.
Thunderstone’s products are used in various fields from multimedia management; help desk support, automated categorization, litigation support, and Web content searching.
The last field is of the greatest interest to us, because the Thunderstone Search Appliance could push the company into a wider range of clients. The upgrade promises to support all of its sister software with improved administrative interface, faster searching, query auto complete, content caching, and a walk log for analysis. Those are just the basic upgraded features.
Thunderstone includes the following benefits with their search software:
· “A one-time, perpetual license that saves customers 40-60 percent (or more) compared to Thunderstone’s closest competitor.
· Two years of included maintenance, easily extended for additional years at affordable annual rates.
· Superior technical support from software engineers readily accessible to customers by phone, email and message board.
· No restrictions on indexing third-party websites for user-empowering applications and for competitive intelligence purposes.
· Ability to fully search targeted repositories (file servers, web servers, intranet/portal servers, database servers, application databases, etc.) and to handle files that exceed 30 MB in size.
· An attractive Product Investment Protection Program that makes upgrading a breeze, applying 100 percent of the initial Thunderstone product’s purchase price to any desired upgrade.
· Availability as a virtual appliance image to run under a hypervisor to allow for more efficient hardware utilization and manageability.”
These are not bad options. However, having never worked with Thunderstone or even heard of it before this press release we have to question its performance capabilities. Does it really do as advertised or is an extended amount of development needed for implementation?
Whitney Grace, November 18, 2013
November 14, 2013
I read a quite remarkable news release. The title? Grab your blood pressure medicine because you may “explode.”
I expect a sign to warn me off. Was it safe to read about such a potentially powerful technology?
Straightaway I poked through my information about search vendors. I did not recall the name “Expertmaker.” I think it is catchy, echoing the Italian outfit Expert System.
Expertmaker is located at www.expertmaker.com. The company offers the following products:
Products that are “an online solution and/or mobile solution.”
Big Data Anti Churn. I am not exactly sure what this means, and I did not want to contact Expertmaker to learn more.
Flow, a virtual assistant platform.
The technology is positioned as “artificial intelligence.” The description of the company’s technology is located at this link. I scanned the information on the Expertmaker Web site. I noted some points that struck me as interesting, particularly in relation to the news release that triggered my interest. (Who says news releases are irrelevant? Expertmaker has my attention. I suppose that is a good thing, but there are other possible viewpoints too. My attention can be annoying, but, hey, this is a free blog about going “beyond search.”)
First, the label “artificial intelligence” is visible in the description. The AI angle is “machine learning and evolutionary computing.” The point is that the system performs functions that would be difficult using an old fashioned database like DB2, Oracle, or SQL Server. (I assume that the owners of these traditional databases will have some counter arguments to offer.)
Second, the system makes it possible to build search-based applications. (Dassault Exalead has been beating this tom tom for six or seven years. I presume that the Cloud 360 technology is relegated to the user car lot because Expertmaker has rolled into the search dealership.)
Third, a development environment is available, including a “Desktop Artificial Intelligence Toolkit.” There are “solvers.” There are various AI technologies. There is knowledge discovery. There is a “published solution.” And there is this component:
Semantic, value based, meta-data structures allow high precision understanding and value based searches. With the solution you can create your own semantic structures for handling complex solutions.
Okay, this is pretty standard fare for search start ups. I am not sure what the system does, but I looked at examples, including screenshots.
November 14, 2013
I have not heard much about Hewlett Packard Autonomy search. In the pre-buy out deals, I was seeing announcements about IDOL. The flow of information about Autonomy search has slowed. For example, I navigated to NewsNow.co.uk and ran a query for HP Autonomy. Here is the list of “hits” displayed for me for the last four weeks:
Autonomy was one of the most ferocious marketers of its search technology. What jumps out at me is that Hewlett Packard is pitching jargon for customer support, education, and marketing. Augmented reality, perhaps Google Glass envy, makes an appearance as well.
I don’t know how HP will generate sufficient revenue from these products to pay off the $10 billion Autonomy purchase price. I find it interesting that search seems to be a second or third class citizen in the new HP world. I assume HP has its vision. Too bad that search has been marginalized in the stream of “news” in the last four weeks.
Stephen E Arnold, November 14, 2013
November 14, 2013
Russia’s dominant search engine, Yandex, has developed an interesting feature, now in beta. Search Engine Journal reports, “Yandex Islands: Markup Issues and Implementation.” I think the name “Islands” alludes to patches of solid ground in the metaphorical sea that is the Internet. Nice imagery.
Writer Roman Viliavin explains:
“[Yandex] ended up with idea to show to the user website functionality right into the search results. This way the search engine decreases the number of actions users have to perform to receive the answer to what interests them. Yandex says its islands will be able to find solutions for complicated search tasks. For example, the user fills in the form to call a taxi, he writes ‘Place of departure’ and ‘Place of arrival,’ then Yandex sends request to the website and receives the information about costs and time for this particular case. . . . In short, with the help of Yandex Islands users can order, buy a product, make an appointment or perform many other types of actions without leaving search results page.”
That sounds pretty handy from the users’ point of view. There are currently four types if Islands each more complex than the last: Categories, Category + checkbox, Category + checkbox+ prices, and Category + checkbox+ prices+ search. The article gives a good rundown of the functionality, complete with screenshots.
Viliavin spends the bulk of the article, though, diving deep into ways websites can make themselves Islands-friendly, including coding examples and more screenshots. Finally, he shares the Yandex link through which webmasters can test their markups. Check out the article for a more complete view Yandex’s new archipelago.
Cynthia Murrell, November 14, 2013
November 13, 2013
Over at Search Engine Watch, Mark Jackson reminds us that Google was not always top dog in the search field. His article, “Could Bing Ever Overtake Google in Search?” emphasizes that competition is a good thing. While this is true, could the SEO CEO have any other reasons to hope for the search giant’s wane? Vicious pandas and penguins, perhaps? After all, Jackson opens with an admission that he is angry at Google for ceasing to push keyword data into the public realm (where search engine gamers, er, optimizers can get to it) while continuing to supply that data to paid advertisers. The nerve!
Jackson does make some interesting points. He cites a recent Pubcon keynote address given by Google’s own Matt Cutts, which discusses some major developments for the leading search engine. Knowledge Graph, of course, will continue to play a role, as will voice search and “conversational” search. Jackson picks up on Cutt’s last item, “deep learning.”
“Google is focused on deep learning and understanding what users want so searchers don’t have to use simple keyword phrases to search Google. Bing, on the other hand, has partnerships with every major social site and receives data directly from those sources. So, rather than trying to understand what users mean and predicting it, Bing actually knows what user want based on actual data from social sites.”
The piece goes on to emphasize the importance of mobile devices to the future of search, an area where he suspects Bing may really take over. Apparently, Bing’s more “personalized,” social-media-informed approach will especially make the difference in mobile, somehow. He also speculates that users may not take kindly to Google’s changes, particularly Knowledge Graph. He ventures:
“In my opinion, this is a make it or break it type of move by Google. Google users will either continue to like their search or they will end up using search less and less to find what they’re looking for. Bing users may be more likely to actually like their search results because the results are biased towards their own social media activities and friends’ activities online.”
I’d like to think more people are looking for objective information than for material that confirms their existing biases, but I suppose that is naïve. See the article for more on Jackson’s reasoning and hopes for a Bingy future. Is he right, or will Google maintain its search dominance for years to come?
Cynthia Murrell, November 13, 2013
November 12, 2013
If you are a fan of semantic methods, you may find the Siderean Software profile a useful case study. You can find the write up, among others, at this location. The chatter at conferences about semantic methods is finally burning out. Nevertheless, semantic methods bubble beneath the surface of many modern search systems. The Siderean case is an example of what types of content processing operations are required to perform “deep indexing” or “rich metadata extraction.” The first step, as you will learn, is to have content tagged. That means SGML or XML.
The question becomes, “How do I get my content into these formats?” The answer, for many budgets, is a deal breaker. One the content is processable, then a number of manipulations are possible. Think of Siderean’s system as delivering the type of flip and flop of data that Excel provides in its pivot table. Now ask yourself, “How often do I use a pivot table?” Exactly.
Remember. I am posting pre-publication drafts of analyses that may have been used, recycled, or just ripped off by various “real” publishers over the years. If there are errors in these drafts, you can “correct” them by adding a comment to this post in Beyond Search. The archive of case studies or profiles will not be updated.
I am providing these for personal use. If a frisky soul wants to use them for commercial purposes, I will take some type of action. If you were in my lecture at the enterprise search conference in New York last week, you will know that I called attention to one of the most slippery of the azure chip consulting firms. I showed a slide that listed the same “expert” twice on a $3,500 report. Not bad, since the outfit’s expert did not create the information in the report.
Stephen E Arnold, November 12, 2013
November 11, 2013
I want to ask you, gentle reader, “Do you recall the messages that whipped Rome’s citizens into a fury when the death of Germanicus became known?” If you did, you are aware of the value of sponsored content. If you did not, you will find something incredibly new, totally exciting, and probably revolutionary when you read “Marrying Companies and Content.” If the link is dead, you will have to find a content repository like the public library to read the article in the November 11, 2013, New York Times.
The main point of the write up is that since 1947 companies have been sponsoring content. Imagine that! 1947. The article explains that sponsored content is a darned good way to market. I liked this statement in the write up:
“This is not a fad,” he [PR maven at Weber Shandwick] said, pointing out that both corporate money (advertising) and venture money (backing) were pouring into brand publishing. “These guys stand out because they bring a depth of understanding to the economic proposition and know that for it to work, it has to be done right.”
For a more informative view of manipulated information, I suggest a spin through Jacques Ellul’s Propaganda is a useful first step.
To see the consequences of sponsored content, may I suggest:
- Running a query and identifying which hits are accurate, which are disinformation, misinformation, or reformation
- Standing in front of Cuba Libre in Washington, DC, and running a Google query for restaurants on your iPhone
- Considering the “value” of outputs from Jike.com, the Chinese centric search system
- Listening to either Harry Shearer or No Agenda and comparing the information with that in a mass media outlet.
By the way, do today’s college graduates have the tools to identify and remediate malformed information in search results? Is this discussion of Germanicus accurate? Can your colleagues handle ancient history or more timely outputs from a Big Data system?
Stephen E Arnold, November 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
November 7, 2013
My Overflight service delivered a gem to me this morning. The hot news concerns an executive shuffle. But deep within the comments about libraries and innovation was this paragraph:
To commemorate this pivotal milestone, the company [ProQuest (UMI)] created a comic book that tells the story in true superhero fashion of how microfilm became the gold standard for information preservation. Eugene B. Power and the Wild Beginnings of UMI is available in print and e-book format.
Fascinating. I recall the joy of searching microfilm when I was but a wee lad. Turning that crank and praying the film did not break added such joy to my studies of William Alabaster’s Elizabethiad. Search was a process that required coordination, scanning, and squinting. Who needs online? What milestone can be passed without a comic book? For fans of WWII, UMI’s origins are quite interesting.
Stephen E Arnold, November 7, 2013
November 7, 2013
Could research on perceptions of trustworthiness make for a new approach to search marketing? The British Psychological Society‘s Research Digest advises, “Want People to Trust You? Try Apologising for the Rain.” A recent study by researchers at Harvard Business School and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School found that people see strangers who apologize for factors beyond their control as more trustworthy than others.
In the researchers’ series of behavioral studies, first came three lab experiments. See the article for details, but in all three participants did rate strangers as more trustworthy when they had apologized for something that could not have been their fault. A field study conducted at a train station on a rainy day seems to confirm this bias.
Writer Christian Jarrett tells us:
“The most compelling evidence came from [Harvard's] Alison Brooks and her colleagues’ fourth and final study in which a male actor approached 65 strangers (30 women) at a train station on a rainy day to ask to borrow their mobile phone. Crucially, for half of them he preceded his request with the superfluous apology: ‘I’m sorry about the rain!’ The other half of the time he just came straight out with his request: ‘Can I borrow your cell phone?’ The superfluous apology made a big difference. Forty-seven per cent of strangers offered their phone when the actor apologised for the rain first, compared with just nine per cent when there was no apology.”
Jarrett points out a serious flaw with this particular test: its scenarios are not parallel. Instead of changing the approach from an apology about the rain to a standard one like “sorry to bother you” or even an opener like “excuse me,” the control script went right into “can I borrow your phone?” It could well have been the abrupt request that put off participants. Still, this is an interesting premise, and the lab experiments provide compelling evidence. Perhaps a better designed field study will be done. In the meantime, though, anyone looking to manipulate human nature in the pursuit of good first impressions may want to consider these findings.
Cynthia Murrell, November 07, 2013