Lucidworks (Really?) Channels Exalead Circa 2006

February 16, 2017

I know that many search wizards have short memories. If the mavens have long memories, the thought process may be that no one remembers the past. Yo, gentle reader, I do. Exalead, a search and retrieval system, spawned by a former member of the AltaVista team is now part of Dassault, the French super engineering firm. At one time, clear eyed marketers at Exalead decided that the best way to sell licenses to Exalead’s pretty good search system was to position the system as the enabler of search based applications. One of the Dassault Exalead wizards wrote a book about this. The book appeared in 2011 as “Search Based Applications: At the Confluence of Search and Database Technologies” by Dr. David Grefenstette and Laura Wilbur.

Imagine my surprise when I read “Lucidworks Fusion 3 Enables Teams to Build Enterprise Search Apps Easier and Faster.” The write up explains:

Fusion 3 provides out-of-the-box capabilities for teams seeking to build robust enterprise-level search applications. With greater operational simplicity, IT personnel can now leapfrog months ahead in the development cycle, which allows them to focus on customizing applications to meet unique business needs. Shortening the development cycle even more, a streamlined guided setup feature makes Fusion 3 accessible to non-technical teams who can quickly build search applications that meet high user expectations.

There you go. A decade after the Exalead push for search based applications, Lucidworks (really?) has recycled another vendor’s concept. Note that the phrase “search based applications” was not new to Exalead. I recall hearing it used by one of Personal Library Software’s marketers decades earlier.

Will Lucidworks (really?) marketing pitch generate revenue? Exalead used its positioning to sell itself to Dassault in 2009? Will Lucidworks (really?) find a buyer? There are a number of open source integrators floating around.

More than recycled plastic is going to be needed to spark a renaissance in vendors piggybacking on the free and open source Lucene and Solr software in my opinion.

Then there is search history, but that’s no longer important or even interesting. This type of search marketing recycling amuses me, and I was an adviser to Exalead and one of the reviewers of the Search Based Applications book.

Stephen E Arnold, February 16, 2017

Canada: Right to Be Forgotten

February 15, 2017

I found this interesting. According to “Did a Canadian Court Just Establish a New Right to Be Forgotten Online?

the Federal Court of Canada issued a landmark ruling that paves the way for a Canadian version of the right to be forgotten that would allow courts to issue orders with the removal of Google search results on a global basis very much in mind. The case – A.T. v. – involves a Romanian-based website that downloaded thousands of Canadian judicial and tribunal decisions, posted them online and demanded fees for their swift removal. The decisions are all public documents and available through the Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII), a website maintained by the legal profession in support of open access to legal materials

I find the logic interesting. I believe that Thomson Reuters processes public legal documents and charges a fee to access them and the “value add” that WestLaw and its sister outfits impose. Maybe I am addled like the goose in Harrod’s Creek, but it seems that what’s good for one gander is not so good for the Google.

Poor Romanian entrepreneur! Come up with an original idea and learn that a country wants the data removed. No word on the views of Reed Elsevier which operates LexisNexis. Thomson Reuters, anything to add?

The removal of links is a hassle at best and a real pain at the worst for the Google. For researchers, hey, find the information another way.

Stephen E Arnold, February 15, 2017

Investment Group Acquires Lexmark

February 15, 2017

We read with some trepidation the Kansas City Business Journal’s article, “Former Perceptive’s Parent Gets Acquired for $3.6B in Cash.”  The parent company referred to here is Lexmark, which bought up one of our favorite search systems, ISYS Search, in 2012 and placed it under its Perceptive subsidiary, based in Lenexa, Kentucky. We do hope this valuable tool is not lost in the shuffle.

Reporter Dora Grote specifies:

A few months after announcing that it was exploring ‘strategic alternatives,’ Lexmark International Inc. has agreed to be acquired by a consortium of investors led by Apex Technology Co. Ltd. and PAG Asia Capital for $3.6 billion cash, or $40.50 a share. Legend Capital Management Co. Ltd. is also a member of the consortium.

Lexmark Enterprise Software in Lenexa, formerly known as Perceptive Software, is expected to ‘continue unaffected and benefit strategically and financially from the transaction’ the company wrote in a release. The Lenexa operation — which makes enterprise content management software that helps digitize paper records — dropped the Perceptive Software name for the parent’s brand in 2014. Lexmark, which acquired Perceptive for $280 million in cash in 2010, is a $3.7 billion global technology company.

If the Lexmark Enterprise Software (formerly known as Perceptive) division will be unaffected, it seems they will be the lucky ones. Grote notes that Lexmark has announced that more than a thousand jobs are to be cut amid restructuring. She also observes that the company’s buildings in Lenexa have considerable space up for rent. Lexmark CEO Paul Rooke is expected to keep his job, and headquarters should remain in Lexington, Kentucky.

Cynthia Murrell, February 15, 2017

Metropolitan Museum of Arts: Images There but Findability Not

February 14, 2017

I recall the Google Life Magazine image collection. I noted the BBC archive of programs. I checked out the Internet Archive’s rich media collection. Years ago I worked on the Library of Congress’ American Memory project. These have a unifying thread:

The content is essentially unfindable.

I read “Metropolitan Museum of Art Puts 375,000 Public Domain Images in Creative Commons.” The write up explains:

As part of a new initiative it’s calling Open Access, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has placed 375,000 images of public-domain works in the Creative Commons. This major, though not unprecedented, move by one of the world’s most important museums means that users can now access pictures of many of the Met’s holdings on Wikimedia…

You can try out the search system at this link. Good luck finding images. Remember Caravaggio is spelled with two g’s. Oh, the query returned a number of false drops.

The way to find images is to browse. Fun. Time consuming. Not good.

Stephen E Arnold, February 14, 2017

Whither ISYS Search Software?

February 13, 2017

I must admit I don’t think too much about ISYS Search Software. Founded in the 1980s, Lexmark acquired the Australian company in 2012. The former IBM printer unit described ISYS as a “global leader” in search. ISYS performed well, but global leader? Well, that’s verbal fireworks in my opinion. ISYS disappeared and emerged (sort of) as the search system in Lexmark’s health care play. This outfit was called Perceptive Software and performed a wide range of magic for a market sector which would presumably make as much money as printer ink once did. Yep, how’s that for an MBA play? Not the full ball game. But Lexmark did not have enough text processing oomph. The company bought Brainware in 2012, an outfit which held patents for trigram, offered pattern matching search technology, and had a work flow system to do some back office tricks. Busy year 2012 for the horsey printer set.

The answer is that Lexmark is now part of Apex and PAG Asian Capital. Stated another way, Lexmark blew money and, like many other companies, learned that search was a tough business to use as a springboard to untold wealth. Lexmark snagged Kofax in 2015 in an attempt to generate money from the world’s need to federate content.

I thought of Lexmark, ISYS, and the gyrations of Lexmark when I read “Lexmark Cuts 320 Software Jobs; Local Toll Unclear.” What units of Lexmark are affected? My hunch is that the trio of Brainware, ISYS, and Kofax may bear the brunt of the weight of the folks looking for new jobs. (Lexmark bought the ETL outfit Kofax, which does some work for interesting US government agencies, licenses tools to one of my favorite outfits with visions of JRR Tolkien, and does not return telephone calls.) My experience with Chinese executives is that they are pragmatic. The write up told me:

“This action was taken to reduce our costs to be more in line with our revenues and those of comparable enterprise software companies,” Sylvia Chansler, a spokeswoman for Lexmark subsidiary Kofax Inc., said in a statement.

The great pivot of Lexmark from printers to management software seems to have failed. Surprised? I am not. I live in rural Kentucky and know that high technology dreams can be difficult to realize in an area where fast horses and expensive bourbon capture one’s imagination.

Stephen E Arnold, February 13, 2017

Everyone Can Be a Search Expert

February 10, 2017

In the bad old days of SDC Orbit and BRS, one had to learn commands to run queries. I remember a pitch from Dow Jones and its nascent “retrieval” experts baying about graphical interfaces. Yep, how has that worked out for the professional researchers. With each “making it easier to search” movement, the quality of the search experts has gone down. I can’t recall the last time I met a person who said, “I am not very good at finding information online.”

Right, everyone is an expert.

The point of my comment about user friendliness is to create a nice little iron hook on which to hand this hypothesis.

Search is going to disappear.

Don’t believe me. Navigate to “Survey: 60 Percent of Voice Users Want more Answers and Fewer Search Results.” The key word is “voice.” This means more Google Home, Amazon Alexa, and voice recognition. The fewer results is a direct consequence of small screens and diminished attention spans.

Who wants to do research which requires:

  1. Identifying sources
  2. Locating information
  3. Reading the information
  4. Thinking about the information
  5. Synthesizing the information
  6. Creating a foot or end note.

Forget the notion of a reference interview, selecting a database editorially shaped to contain higher value information, and scanning an annotated bibliography.



Talk to your phone. The smart software will deliver the answer.

I learned from the write up:

The top three rationales behind voice usage were:

  1. It’s fast.
  2. The answer is read back to me.
  3. I don’t have to type.

About 40 percent of both men and women said that voice made using their smartphones easier. Men were more likely than women to strongly agree. This answer and other data in the survey reflect a mostly positive experience with voice.

Want charts? Want “proof”? Read the source document. My view is that a failure to think about research and go through the intellectual work required to obtain semi reliable, semi accurate information means more time for Facebook and Twitter.

That’s great.

Let’s make it so people will accept the output of a voice search without thinking. There’s absolutely nothing like a great idea with no downside. Wonderful.

Stephen E Arnold, February 10, 2017

Dark Web Drug Sales Show No Signs of Slowing

February 10, 2017

Business is apparently booming for Dark Web drug sales. Business Insider published an article that reports on this news: An in-depth new study shows that the online market for illegal drugs is skyrocketing. The study conducted by RAND Europe found the number of transactions on illegal drug sites has tripled since 2013, and revenues have almost doubled. Apparently, most of the shipping routes are within North America. The article tells us,

Elsewhere in the study, researchers found that wholesale transactions (which it categorised as sales worth over $1,000 [£770]) generated a quarter of total revenue for drug marketplaces. That figure was unchanged between 2013 and 2016, though. Cannabis was the most popular drug globally, making up 33% of drug marketplace transactions. But the report looked at sales to Holland specifically and found that it only made up 17% of transactions there. That’s likely because the sale of cannabis is legal in the country through licensed venues, reducing the need for people to use illegal online stores.

The year 2013 carries meaning because it was in fall 2013 that the Silk Road was shut down. This study suggests its closure did not eliminate Dark Web drug sales. As the article alludes to, as cannabis laws may or may not change in the United States, it will be interesting to see how this affects Dark web use and marketplace sales.

Megan Feil, February 10, 2017

The Game-Changing Power of Visualization

February 8, 2017

Data visualization may be hitting at just the right time. Data Floq shared an article highlighting the latest, Data Visualisation Can Change How We Think About The World. As the article mentions, we are primed for it biologically: the human eye and brain processes 10 to 12 separate images per second, comfortably. Considering the output, visualization provides the ability to rapidly incorporate new data sets, remove metadata and increase performance. Data visualization is not without challenge. The article explains,

Perhaps the biggest challenge for data visualisation is understanding how to abstract and represent abstraction without compromising one of the two in the process. This challenge is deep rooted in the inherent simplicity of descriptive visual tools, which significantly clashes with the inherent complexity that defines predictive analytics. For the moment, this is a major issue in communicating data; The Chartered Management Institute found that 86% of 2,000 financiers surveyed late 2013, were still struggling to turn volumes of data into valuable insights. There is a need, for people to understand what led to the visualisation, each stage of the process that led to its design. But, as we increasingly adopt more and more data this is becoming increasingly difficult.

Is data visualization changing how we think about the world, or is the existence of big data the culprit? We would argue data visualization is simply a tool to present data; it is a product rather than an impetus for a paradigm shift. This piece is right, however in bringing attention to the conflict between detail and accessibility of information. We can’t help but think the meaning is likely in the balancing of both.

Megan Feil, February 8, 2017

HonkinNews for 7 February 2017 Now Available

February 7, 2017

This week’s program highlights Google’s pre school and K-3 robot innovation from Boston Dynamics. In June 2016 we thought Toyota was purchasing the robot reindeer company. We think Boston Dynamics may still be part of the Alphabet letter set. Also, curious about search vendor pivots. Learn about two shuffles (Composite Software and CopperEye) which underscore why plain old search is a tough market. You will learn about the Alexa Conference and the winner of the Alexathon. Alexa seems to be a semi hot product. When will we move “beyond Alexa”? Social media analysis has strategic value? What vendor seems to have provided “inputs” to the Trump campaign and the Brexit now crowd? HonkinNews reveals the hot outfit making social media data output slick moves. We provide a run down of some semantic “news” which found its way to Harrod’s Creek. SEO, writing tips, and a semantic scorecard illustrate the enthusiasm some have for semantics. We’re not that enthusiastic, however. Google is reducing its losses from its big bets like the Loon balloon. How much? We reveal the savings, and it is a surprising number. And those fun and friendly robots. Yes, the robots. You can view the video at this link. Google Video provides a complete run down of the HonkinNews programs too. Just search for HonkinNews.

Kenny Toth, February 7, 2017

Scanning for the True Underbelly of the Dark Web

February 7, 2017

Some articles about the Dark Web are erring on the side of humor about it’s threat-factor. Metro UK published 12 scary things which happen when you go on the ‘Dark Web’, which points out some less commonly reported happenings on the Dark Web. Amongst the sightings mentioned were: a German man selling pretzels, someone with a 10/10 rating at his carrot (the actual vegetable) marketplace, and a template for creating counterfeit Gucci designs. The article reports,

Reddit users shared their stories about the ‘dark web’ – specifically Tor sites, invisible to normal browsers, and notorious for hosting drug markets and child pornography. Using the free Tor browser, you can access special .onion sites – only accessible using the browser – many of which openly host highly illegal content including pirated music and films, drugs, child pornography and sites where credit card details are bought and sold.

While we chose not to summarize several of the more dark happenings mentioned by Redditors, we know the media has given enough of that side to let your imaginations run wild. Of course, as has also been reported by more serious publications, it is a myth that the Dark Web is only filled with cybercriminals. Unless pretzels have qualities that have yet to be understood as malicious.

Megan Feil, February 7, 2017

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