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Social Media Search: Will Informed People Respond?

January 19, 2016

I recall asking for directions recently. There were three young people standing outside a bookstore. I wanted to know where the closest ice cream shop was. The three looked at me, smiled, looked at one another, smiled, and one of them said: “No clue.”

I like the idea of asking a group of people for information, but the experiences I have suggest that one has to be careful. Ask a tough question and no one may know the answer. Ask a question in an unfamiliar way such as “shop” instead of Dairy Queen, and the group may not have the faintest idea what one is talking about.

These thoughts influenced my reading of “Social Media: The Next Best Search Engine.” The title seemed to suggest that I could rely on my old school tricks but I would be silly not to use Facebook and Twitter to get information. That’s okay, but I don’t use Facebook, and the Twitter tweet thing seems to be down.


The write up reports:

Many consumers skip right over Google or Yahoo when conducting a search, and instead type it into social media networks.

The approach may work for peak TV and Miley Cyrus news, but I find analysis of social media intercept data more helpful for some of my queries.

Here’s the trick, according to the article:

To make sure you are responding to this growing trend, be present on social media on the channels that best make sense for your company. …The best way to optimize your posts is through hashtags and the content itself. For Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram, be sure to include relevant hashtags in your posts so that users can find your posts. For sites such as LinkedIn and Yelp which don’t utilize hashtags, make sure that you fill out your profiles as completely as possible.

Okay, indexing and details.

Search? I don’t think I will change my methods.

Stephen E Arnold, January 19, 2016

Semantic Machines: A Voice Search Revolution?

January 19, 2016

I read “Newton Startup Scoops Up Talent As It Works to Perfect Artificial Intelligence.” The write up takes an enthusiastic approach to the efforts of a smart software company in the Boston area. I like these types of articles. They remind me of the days when Route 128 was the cat’s pajamas.

I learned that when I talk to my phone, the system is not “smart enough.” I know. Background noise, speaking too quickly, or mumbling are issues with the voice to search thing. Then there is the output. Our test involves asking for the phone number of a person with a Russian name like Kolmogorov in a bus station or a convertible going 40 miles per hour.

The write up points out:

Semantic Machines is currently working on artificial intelligence technology that could do a better job than Siri or other platforms as they interact with users.

There is big money involved; for example, $20 million from the Bainies and other illuminati.

Here’s the angle:

…The idea behind the startup is to develop a “new paradigm” in a field known as conversational computing — essentially improving the way you interact with your phone or computer, whether via voice or text — “much, much closer to the conversational style in the way people talk…”

Worth noting.

Stephen E Arnold, January 19, 2016

Ah, Ha. Search May Be Dying

January 18, 2016

I did not know that. I am delighted to have wisdom available from a blog focusing on search engine optimization.

Dear, old search. Are you really dying? I thought you had pulled off one of the Carlos Castaneda transmogrifications into augmented intelligence, customer support services, analytics, and my favorite Big Data. If Vivisimo can pull this off at IBM, almost any company with information access capabilities can wake up as a metasearch company and go to bed as a Big Data champ with the four Vs dancing in one’s dreams.

The write up points out:

Recent years have revealed a worrisome trend (for Google anyway) — search engine use overall has declined from 90 percent in 2009 to 86 percent in 2014. This might not seem like much of a downward trend, but if you consider that overall global Internet use has increased by 67 percent in the same period, that’s a lot of Internet users who aren’t turning to search.

The article represents this wonderful Pew Research chart:


But the section which tickled my Alphabet Google fancy was this passage:

There’s no denying that Google is the most complex searchable database on the Internet. It offers billions of results and is constantly innovating new ways to determine your search needs. However it would seem that Google’s impressive scope is the very thing that is sending people to apps and other websites to find the information they need. People want results that are personalized for them, while Google is busy trying to be everything for everyone. There are simply too many relevant results in Google’s database to match the personalization capabilities of apps and websites. That’s why apps are increasingly being used as research channels, especially among teens, who are 30 percent more likely to use them for search.

The inescapable conclusion seems to be that search is a goner.

I don’t agree, but that’s not germane to the SEO mavens who stand ready to serve customers eager for clicks, app downloads, and lots of SEO goodness.

At least the Mirror comes at the Alphabet Google thing with a bit of creativity. See, for example, “Google Slammed over Refusal to Advertise Plus Size Fashion to Curvy Consumers.” Now that’s real hard hitting evidence for the argument that search is on a down ward trajectory.

Stephen E Arnold, January 18, 2016

Stephen E Arnold

Surprise. News Corp. Thinks Probe of Google Is Okay

January 18, 2016

I love it when outfits which are engaged in real journalism comment about the Alphabet Google thing. Newspapers never had a monopolistic thought in their history. The newspaper wars are a myth. Yellow journalism was a result of color blind folks misunderstanding “real” data gathering and dissemination.

To learn more about News Corp.’s view of a Google anti trust probe, navigate to “News Corp. CEO Says Antitrust Probe of Google Could Be Warranted.” Yep, woulda, coulda, shoulda.

I learned:

Citing a lack of competition in the search market, especially in Europe, News Corp. CEO Robert Thomson called Monday for closer scrutiny of Google’s business by regulators.

I wonder if the News Corp. digital wizards is aware of:

There are some other services as well, but from the point of view of New Corp., they are probably irrelevant.

I assume that alternatives are not important to executives representing a company with an interesting track record in management and information gathering.

I wonder why folks are using the Alphabet Google thing? Thoughts, gentle reader?

Stephen E Arnold, January 18, 2016

Newspaper Reveals Tricks for Google Search

January 15, 2016

I love it when newspapers get into the online research game. I think fondly about the newspaper in Nevada. Its reporters were not able to figure out who owned the newspaper. Hint: Casino owner.

I read “How to Use Search Like a Pro: 10 Tips and Tricks for Google and Beyond.” The word “beyond” is darned popular when it comes to search. I wonder who has been using the phrase “beyond search” for a decade or more? Hmm. No idea.

The write up includes some jaw droppers for the folks who are not familiar with SDC Orbit or the conventions of Lockheed Dialog; for example:

Use quotes to search for a bound phrase. Okay. What happens when Google does not locate an exact phrase match? What then, gentle Guardian? No comment? Okay.

Here’s another tip and trick:

Use the OR operator. Now that is helpful when one is looking for a really big result set. How does one narrow a Google result set when the GOOG says, “About 1,400,000 results. Thoughts? Nope. Okay.

And one more. For the other seven you will have to read the source write up:

Use the “Related” operator to find more sites like — wait for it — the Nothing like using a dead tree publication to flog some clicks from the punters.

I wish to point out that the GOOG is deeply concerned about the decline in boat anchor type searches. The effort is being directed at providing information before the user knows s/he needs it. This is called predictive search.

I am delighted that the newspaper is describing how to use a search system which is losing traction. But, hey, that’s what makes real journalists and dead tree publishers the type of outfit that Jeff Bezos and Sheldon Adelson hungry to buy these companies.

Stephen E Arnold, January 15, 2016

Google Has Some Supporters in China

January 14, 2016

Google, China wants you back. Well, more accurately, some folks in China what Google back. What is needed is unbiased search results.

According to “Chinese Citizens Are Boycotting Search Engine Baidu—and Praying for Google to Come Back”:

This week, though, tens of thousands of Chinese citizens pledged to boycott Baidu entirely, after they discovered the Beijing company has been earning profits by giving chronically ill users biased information through its chat rooms, known as “post bar” services.

The write up explains:

Launched in 2003, Baidu Post Bar, or Tieba, is a massive online community with about 19 million discussion groups that range from food to films to foreign affairs. Tieba’s numerous illness-related post bars serve as online support groups, where patients share experiences about their diseases and treatment.

Then there was a hint that Baidu was in the dark:

A Baidu spokesman told Quartz he couldn’t say what percentage of Baidu’s 19 million post bar groups were run by a commercial partner.

Yep, there’s is nothing like an objective, ad supported search system to deliver the results folks need, want, believe to be accurate.

The only hitch may be the Chinese authorities who are able to reflect on companies which tell China what to do.

Stephen E Arnold, January 14, 2016

The Duck Quacks 12 Million Queries

January 14, 2016

DuckDuckGo keeps waddling through its search queries and quacking that it will not track its users information.  DuckDuckGo has remained a small search engine, but its privacy services are chipping away at Google and search engines’ user base.  TechViral shares that “DuckDuckGo The Anti-Google Search Engine Just Reached A New Milestone” and it is reaching twelve million search queries in one day!

In 2015, DuckDuckGo received 3.25 billion search queries, showing a 74 percent increase compared to the 2014 data.  While DuckDuckGo is a private oasis in a sea of tracking cookies, it still uses targeted ads.  However, unlike Google DuckDuckGo only uses ads based on the immediate keywords used in a search query and doesn’t store user information.  It wipes the search engine clean with each use.

DuckDuckGo’s increase of visitors has attracted partnerships with Mozilla and Apple.  The private search engine is a for profit business, but it does have different goals than Google.

“Otherwise, it should be noted that although he refuses to have the same practices as Google, DuckDuckGo already making profits, yes that’s true. And the company’s CEO, Gabriel Weinberg, stop to think it is necessary to collect information about users to monetize a search engine: ‘You type car and you see an advertisement for a car, Google follows you on all these sites because it operates huge advertising networks and other properties. So they need these data for search engines to follow you.’ ”

DuckDuckGo offers a great service for privacy, while it is gaining more users it doesn’t offer the plethora of services Google does.  DuckDuckGo, why not try private email, free office programs, and online data storage?  Would you still be the same if you offered these services?

Whitney Grace, January 14, 2016
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Boolean Search: Will George Boole Rotate in His Grave?

January 12, 2016

Boolean logic is, for most math wonks, the father of Boolean logic. This is a nifty way to talk about sets and what they contain. One can perform algebra and differential equations whilst pondering George and his method for thinking about fruits when he went shopping.

In the good old days of search, there was one way to search. One used AND, OR, NOT, and maybe a handful of other logic operators to retrieve information from structured indexes and content. Most folks with a library science degree or a friendly math major can explain Boolean reasonably well. Here’s an example which might even work on CSA ProQuest (nèe Lockheed Dialog) even today:

CC=77? AND scam?

The systems when fed the right query would reply with pretty good precision and recall. Precision provided info that was supposed to be useful. Recall meant that what should be included was in the result set.

I thought about Boole, fruit, and logic when I read “The Best Boolean and Semantic Search Tool.” Was I going to read about SDC’s ORBIT, ESA Quest, or (heaven help me) the original Lexis system?


I learned about LinkedIn. Not one word about Palantir’s injecting Boolean logic squarely in the middle of its advanced data management processes. Nope.

LinkedIn. I thought that LinkedIn used open source Lucene, but maybe the company has invested in Exorbyte, Funnelback, or some other information access system.

The write up stated:

If you use any source of human capital data to find and recruit people (e.g., your ATS/CRM, resume databases, LinkedIn, Google, Facebook, Github, etc.) and you really want to understand how to best approach your talent sourcing efforts, I recommend watching this video when you have the time.

Okay, human resource functions. LinkedIn, right.

But there is zero content in the write up. I was pointed to a video called “Become a LinkedIn Search Ninja: Advanced Boolean Search” on YouTube.

Here’s what I learned before I killed the one hour video:

  1. The speaker is in charge of personnel and responsible for Big Data activities related to human resources
  2. Search is important to LinkedIn users
  3. Profiles of people are important
  4. Use OR. (I found this suggestion amazing.)
  5. Use iterative, probabilistic, and natural language search, among others. (Yep, that will make sense to personnel professionals.)

Okay. I hit the stop button. Not only will George be rotating, I may have nightmares.

Please, let librarians explicitly trained in online search and retrieval explain methods for obtaining on point results. Failing a friendly librarian, ask someone who has designed a next generation system which provides “helpers” to allow the user to search and get useful outputs.

Entity queries are important. LinkedIn can provide some useful information. The tools to obtain that high value information are a bit more sophisticated than the recommendations in this video.

Stephen E Arnold, January 12, 2016

Search Is Marketing and Lots of Other Stuff Like Semantics

January 12, 2016

I spoke with a person who asked me, “Have you seen the 2013 Dave Amerland video? The video in question is “Google Semantic Search and its Impact on Business.”

I hadn’t. I watched the five-minute video and formed some impressions / opinions about the information presented. Now I wish I had not invested five minutes in serial content processing.

First, the premise is that search is marketing does not match up with my view of search. In short, search is more than marketing, although some view search as essential to making a sale.

Second, the video generates buzzwords. There’s knowledge graph, semantic, reputation, Big Data, and more. If one accepts the premise that search is about sales, I am not sure what these buzzwords contribute. The message is that when a user looks for something, the system should display a message that causes a sale. Objectivity does not have much to do with this, nor do buzzwords.

Third, presentation of the information was difficult for me to understand. My attention was undermined by the wild and wonderful assertions about the buzzwords. I struggled with “from stings to things, from Web sites to people.” What?

The video is ostensibly about the use of “semantics” in content. I am okay with semantic processes. I understand that keeping words and metaphors consistent are helpful to a human and to a Web indexing system.

But the premise. I have a tough time buying in. I want search to return high value, on point content. I want those who create content to include helpful information, details about sources, and markers that make it possible for a reader to figure out what’s sort of accurate and what’s opinion.

I fear that the semantics practiced in this video shriek, “Hire me.” I also note that the video is a commercial for a book which presumably amplifies the viewpoint expressed in the video. That means the video vocalizes, “Buy my book.”

Heck, I am happy if I can an on point result set when I run a query. No shrieking. No vocalization. No buzzwords. Will objective search be possible?

Stephen E Arnold, January 12, 2016

Omnity: A Worry for the Googlers?

January 8, 2016

A New Year. Another Google challenger. Anyone remember which kept Eric Schmidt awake at night? Yep, right.

I read “Semantic Search Engine Omnity Reckons It Can Beat Google.”

The write up had a great phrase: Tyranny of the taxonomy.”

This should make the purveyors of Boot Camps, software, and human controlled term schema developers perspire. Well, maybe only a little on the upper lip.

The new sheriff is Omnity described this way:

Omnity is a new kind of search engine that asks the question: What if, instead of searching for keywords like “baseball scores” or “best-rated Nintendo 64 games,” a search engine let users search across disparate documents, from Wikipedia pages and news articles to patent filings and PDFs, in order to find shared interconnectedness?

The method used? The article reports:

when Omnity searches across documents, it throws out “grammatical glue but semantic noise”—commonly used words like “the,” “he,” “she,” or “it.” Stripped of this “noise,” Omnity is then able to analyze the remaining “rare words” to find common threads that link together different documents.

Once the company works out the name confusion with the 3D utility product, the system will be easier to find online. Check it out at

If Mr. Schmidt is reading this blog post, now you can dream about Qwant and Omnity.

PS. The write up had a wonderful quote from the founder of Omnity, Brian Sager, which I reproduce here:

“I use Google every day and it’s great, but no, we’re more likely to buy Google.”

Worry, Mr. Schmidt. Worry.

Stephen E Arnold, January 8, 2016

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