The buzz tonight (Sunday) is about the launch of Powerset the new semantic search engine that is showing us that Wikipedia really does have good information to offer.
Limited to just Wikipedia for now, Powerset is more of a technology showcase than a useful tool, but if you’re looking for something that you’d turn to Wikipedia for, Powerset should be your first choice, not Wikipedia itself.
While Techmeme is abuzz about Powerset, and for good reason because it is very powerful and a true innovation in search, I do have some questions about it … first here are some quotes that I thought were pretty insightful on semantic search and Powerset:
It has been a long time coming, but Powerset, a San Francisco-based contextual-semantic search engine has finally launched. I urge you to try it out, for this is quite an impressive search efforts, despite the fact that search is currently limited to Wikipedia along with some supplementary results from Metaweb’s Freebase. I think they have made Wikipedia much more easier to use. I like how one can do more topic-based searches and get a holistic view of the information you’re looking for.–Powerset Is Live – GigaOM
There is no way to look at Powerset today and determine if it can be as disruptive to search as Google was when it launched almost a decade ago. That’s because it only queries Wikipedia, and so there is little need for proper ranking algorithms to sort the good from the bad results. But what user can see is how effective a way it is to gather information quickly. For someone doing research, Powerset effectively removes a number of steps towards getting to the final information. It is particularly effective when the information needed is on many different web pages.–Powerset Launches Showcase For User Search Experience
Powerset’s Wikipedia search engine isn’t going to slow down the Google in the near term, but it will raise the bar on the search experience for all players. “There are implications beyond Wikipedia,” Pell said. ” Search is not done. You can see the emerging Semantic Web with our integration of Wikipedia and Freebase. We will add other components with structured data and ways to answers questions.” Powerset has said that the longer term plan is to read, linguistically analyze and index 20 billion documents on the Web, which will be a costly and ambitious undertaking. (Getting acquired by Microsoft would be helpful for that project. Powerset has received $12.5 million in Series A funding from Foundation Capital, Founders Fund, and angel investors in 2006.)–Powerset brings the Semantic Web to Wikipedia | Outside the Lines – CNET News.com
Is Powerset and semantic search the David twirling a slingshot at Goliath Google’s skull or are we just looking at a (powerful) nice tool?
A little of both, actually, and if Google is smart they will snap them up before Microsoft does.
Enterprise Search Appliance–Golden Ticket for Powerset
Right now both Microsoft and Google sell enterprise search tools. No, not which turbo life to get to shuttle bay 5, tools to find “stuff” within large companies. Having been in a rather company, let me tell you, there is a lot of “stuff” that’s around. More things are “lost” than ever have been created.
Corporate CMS systems and search were supposed to help us all out of this bind, but yet I think they still fall short. However, what if you could index all the documents, emails, databases, reports, etc sitting around in various files shares and let people find then by asking questions they normally would. Things like “how many new compounds were discovered between 1993 and 2003?” or “best practices for rolling out knowledge management systems”. These are the questions people ask everyday and still have trouble finding the answers to, and not because they don’t exist (psst, I wrote about the second one when I was at Glaxo–it’s probably lost now, case in point), but because they are nearly impossible to find.
Now if Google or Microsoft could sell a box with these semantic engine, and it’s given a month to start indexing…imagine what you might find?
Now, break out the chequebooks, because your company is going to want one (or be able to subscribe to one).