Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘business’

Four Bad Bears Markets

Four Bears and Inflation

Four Bears and Inflation

Four Bears and Inflation
April 17, 2009
Earlier this week the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) announced a Consumer Price Index number for March that showed an annualized negative number. It was tiny, a mere -0.38%. But it was the first negative annualized rate since August of 1955. Is it a hint of more to come?

Deflation has been a chronic problem in the Japanese economy since the Nikkei 225 topped out in 1989, and it was a debilitating problem during the Great Depression. There are a few economists who see deflation as a threat to the U.S. economy on the expectation of continuing unemployment and consumer deleveraging.

But the consensus seems to believe that monetary easing by the Federal Reserve is more likely to trigger the reverse problem — higher inflation. Some even foresee a return to the sustained inflation of the seventies and early eighties. This is yet another topic that demonstrates the heightened “Uncertainty Factor” in today’s economy and its imperfect reflection in the markets.

And speaking of the markets, most people think only in terms of nominal price values with little consideration of real (inflation-adjusted) performance. But over longer periods inflation and deflation are major factors. The thumbnails to the right offer a quick comparison of our Four Bad Bears chart in nominal, real, and alternate-real formats. In nominal prices, our current bear has begun to pull away from the treacherous slope that led to the Great Depression. That’s not the case in real prices, mostly because (ironically) the deflation of the earlier period makes the 1929-32 decline seem less grave. If the ShadowStats Alternate CPI adjustment has any credence, the real comparison is even more bizarre. The ShadowStats claim of understated inflation since 1982 makes the Tech and current declines significantly more severe.

Click on the small charts for a series of larger versions. Use the blue links at the top to navigate among them.

——————————————————————————–
four-bears-large

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bear Turns to Bull?
April 17, 2009 updated daily
The S&P 500 closed the week by rallying to a new high 28.5% above the March 9th low. Are we in a new bull market, or is this just another bear rally? Click here to review the previous rallies during the current bear market, and here’s a table showing the 1929-1932 Dow rallies.

We continue to be fascinated with the saga of the Four Bad Bears. In nominal terms, the latest rally puts the S&P 500 just slightly higher than Dow Crash of 1929 over the equivalent time frame. In real (inflation adjusted) terms, the Dow fares better.

The accompanying charts are intended not as a forecast but rather as a way to study the current decline in relation to three familiar bears from history.

For a better sense of how these declines figure into a larger historical context, here’s a long-term view of secular bull and bear markets in the S&P Composite since 1871.

For a bit of international flavor, here’s a chart series that includes the so-called L-shaped “recovery” of the Nikkei 225. I update these weekly.

Since inflation is a favorite topic on this website, I now regularly update a pair of charts to facilitate a comparison of the nominal and real declines. See also my logarithmic scale view of the “Four Bad Bears” comparison.

For a visual analysis of bear market recoveries, be sure to see my Bear Bottoming charts introduced in the next section.

mega-bear-quartet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 The Mega-Bear Quartet and L-Shaped Recoveries
April 17, 2009 updated weekly
Here’s an update of the Mega-Bear Quartet. It’s especially relevant these days because of the frequent mention of L-shaped recoveries and references to the Japanese market after the 1989 bubble.

To see the mega-bear comparison more clearly, here’s musical analogy that allows you to view the similarities incrementally. Use the blue links to add the parts.

This latest update now includes an inflation-adjusted chart, which gives us a fascinating visualization of the impact of inflation on long-term market prices. The higher the rate of inflation during a bear market, the greater the real decline. Compare the peak of the Dow rally in year seven against the nominal chart. The difference is the result of deflation during the great depression.

It’s rather stunning to see the real (inflation-adjusted) decline of the Nikkei, 19 years after its crash. The current lows rival the traumatic Dow bottom in 1932, less than 3 years after its peak.

Over the past few decades, equity markets in the U.S. have had an extended bull run. These charts remind us that bear markets can last a long time. And it’s not necessary to go back to the Great

Read Full Post »

Business & TechAdd Time News
My Yahoo!
My Google
Netvibes
My AOL
RSS Feed
See all feeds SEARCH TIME.COM Full Archive
Covers
INSIDE: Main | Global Business | Small Business | Curious Capitalist | Nerd World | Money & Main Street | Videos
google_04011
As Google’s Growth Falters, Microsoft Could Regain Momentum
By 24/7 Wall St. Wednesday, Apr. 01, 2009People sit under a Google logoitted.
JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty
Print
Email Share
Digg
Facebook Yahoo! BuzzTwitter Linkedin Permalink Reprints Related Most of the recent news about Google (GOOG) has been bad. Online advertising posted a slow fourth quarter. That unexpectedly included both display ads and search marketing which has made Google one of the fastest growing large companies in America. Several Wall St. analysts have commented that Google’s search revenue’s rate of increase flattened out in January and February. Since the consensus among experts who cover the company is that revenue will rise 11% in the first quarter, a flat quarter would be devastating.

Related
China’s Dream of Big GDP Growth is Disappearing
Why GE’s new Global “Theme” is an Excuse to Sell Medical Equipment
Internet Advertising: Bad in Q1, Possibly Worse in Q2
More Related
Google: The Economy in a Tea Cup
Catching Up to Stay Ahead
Google Gets Friendly
One of the things that Wall St. hates about Google is that it does one thing better than any other company in the world, but that is all it does. Google Chrome browser, Google Earth, Google Maps, and YouTube have really made much money. Some of the features have not produced any revenue at all. If its search operation falters, Google’s run as the hottest tech company in the world could be over. (See pictures of Google Earth.)

At this point, Google is a $22 billion company. If the search business drops to a growth rate of 10% a year, it will take three years for Google’s sales to get to $30 billion. From the time Microsoft (MSFT) hit $22 billion in sales in 2000, it took the company less than three years to get to the $30 billion plateau. Then from 2002 to 2008, Microsoft’s sales doubled. The software business not only grew. Until recently, it grew quickly. (See pictures of Bill Gates.)

The assumption about Google’s prospects is that the search company is the next Microsoft. Twenty years ago, Microsoft had the hot hand. Sales of Windows and the company’s business and server software were stunning. The margins on some of Microsoft’s software franchises were over 70%. Then the hyper-growth stopped as the company’s market penetration of PCs and servers reached a saturation point. Microsoft’s stock never saw the level it hit in 2000 again. Without lucrative stock options, employees who wanted to make it rich moved to start-ups. The people who had been at the company thirty years were already rich. Many of them retired.

About seven years after Microsoft’s stock hit an all-time high, Google traded at $747, its peak. It now changes hands at $348, and if the company’s sales can only grow at 10% or 15%, the stock is not going back above $700, ever. The myth about companies like Microsoft and Google is that what they do is so important to business and consumers and so pervasive that the growth curve never flattens out. It does flatten at every company. No exceptions.

The press coverage of Google this week included a few pathetic announcements. Disney (DIS) will put some of its premium content on Google’s YouTube. That should be good for $10 million in revenue a year. Google is starting a $100 million venture capital arm which will make it the 1,000th largest venture operation in the world. In other words, it will not be managing enough venture money to matter. Then word came out that Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) might use Google’s operating system in some of its netbooks instead of Microsoft Windows. The important word in that report is “might.” The news that Google is adding thousands of employees a quarter and that the founders have bought a 747 or an aircraft carrier probably hit a high point two years ago.

Saying that Google is doing poorly is not the same as saying that Microsoft is doing well. What matters to Microsoft is that Google becomes less of a threat each day as it fails in its diversification attempts. Google’s cash flow does not continue to give it an almost limitless capital arsenal. Google has to consider cutting people in areas which will never be profitable. The entire ethos at Google is in the process of changing. Microsoft may be in third place in the search business, but it is in first place in software, which is still the larger industry.

Investors still ask Microsoft why it is in the video game business. There is not any reasonable answer. It is an awful business with poor margins. It has nothing to do with selling Windows. There may have been some idea that being in the hardware business would help the software business, but, if so, that idea didn’t work out a long time ago.

With the perceived playing field that Microsoft and Google operate on a bit more level now, they can race after the one market that could be substantial for either one or both of them, which is providing software and search on mobile devices. The smartphone, which is really a PC for the pocket, is part of the one-billion-units-per-year-in-sales handset industry. Providing the operating software and other key components for wireless devices is almost certainly the next big thing for tech companies from Google to Yahoo (YHOO) to Microsoft to Adobe (ADBE). Trying to milk more money out of the PC gets harder and harder. For the largest companies in the industry, it has become a zero sum game. (See pictures of the 50 best websites of 2008.)

For Google and Microsoft, the best days are over, unless one can dominate the handset world the way it did the universe of computers.

— Douglas A. McIntyre
01

Read Full Post »

How Loomia Aims to Drive Revenue for Media Websites in 2009

Written by Richard MacManus / March 3, 2009 8:00 AM / 6 Comments


Loomia is a content recommendations service, used on sites such as the Wall Street Journal and PC World. We’ve profiled Loomia’s Facebook app before, which tracks what you and your Facebook friends are reading on Loomia-supported sites and then shows you what content is most popular among your social circle. Loomia has recently started to focus on revenue-driving recommendations for its media clients, as well as getting more active in the video industry. In this post we take a look at what Loomia is focusing on in 2009, which is an indicator of what media websites must do to ramp up this year.

On media websites, Loomia is most commonly seen as a widget that recommends content. For example, in the WSJ screenshot to the right, the contents of this widget are obtained by measuring the popularity of the content, user behavior, data about the content itself (for example its topic). For some of the publishers which use Loomia, there is a social element too.

Loomia is similar to Sphere and another app we reviewed recently, Apture. These services all aim to serve up more clickable content options on media websites – which means more user engagement and time spent on site for publishers.

We spoke to Loomia CEO David Marks and asked him how Loomia compares to Sphere, which at first glance appears to have much in common with Loomia. Marks said that Sphere is trying to do “semantic classification”, i.e. analyzing the content of an article and recommending further content based on the findings. However Loomia focuses more on the user and so it does behavioral type recommendations. This can result in a more diverse set of topics, because users typically have a range of content preferences. It depends on the article though, said Marks.

Loomia currently has 2 types of deployment:

  • Content (e.g. WSJ)
  • Video (e.g. Brightcove)

Marks told ReadWriteWeb that video advertising is currently selling well for big media publishers. Accordingly these publishers typically now want to drive users to their videos – and Loomia has a widget to do that.

Marks told us that a lot of their publishers are “dollar focused” this year, therefore recommendations have become more than just an interesting feature on a website – they can drive more advertising dollars. As an example, Marks told us that a media website’s Finance section may sell out with ads, but its Politics section may not (fairly common in big media websites). But the Politics section tends to get bigger page views, so to address the imbalance Loomia’s recommendations widgets can drive users from Politics to Finance.

We’ve been looking at how recommendations are being used in the retail sector a lot, and Loomia is a neat example of how the same technology can have real value for the media segment. Let us know in the comments what other recommendation technologies have caught your eye in publishing.

Read Full Post »

Google’s US Search Market Dominance Hits All Time High

Written by Marshall Kirkpatrick / April 7, 2008 1:51 PM / 15 Comments


Traffic analysts Hitwise released new numbers today finding that Google’s marketshare in US searches rose last month to an all time high of 67% of searches performed. Yahoo! Search (20%), MSN Search (5.25%) and Ask.com (4%) trail far behind but aren’t insignificant either.

At this time last year Google was at 64% and MSN was at 9%. Momentum remains with Google, but is that momentum inevitable? Could things change? We’ve written about three ways that it could.

Innovation

Some have argued that Google’s approach to search is outdated and slow to change. Apparently it’s working just fine for them today, but there’s a world of opportunities for other innovators to come up with a better search experience. We wrote about this situation in our recent post titled “How Vulnerable is Google in Search?

Hitwise tracks 46 other search engines as well, which added up for a combined 1.7% of searches last month. 46 alternative search engines is like a week’s work for our network blog AltSearchEgines, check it out if you’d like to learn about the rest of the industry, including some that may become the challengers of the future.

Semantic Web

Yahoo! is #2 today, but is taking the lead in support for standards based microformats and semantic web indexing. Yahoo! announced that it would index semantic markup three weeks ago. Since semantic markup could enable improvements in search quality by orders of magnitude, this could be a turning point for Google and Yahoo!

As we explained when that announcement was made:

Today, a web service might work very hard to scour the internet to discover all the book reviews written on various sites, by friends of mine, who live in Europe. That would be so hard that no one would probably try it. The suite of technologies Yahoo! is moving to support will make such searches trivial. Once publishers start including things like hReview, FOAF and geoRSS in their content then Yahoo!, and other sites leveraging Yahoo! search results, will be able to ask easily what it is we want to do with those book reviews. Say hello to a new level of innovation.

 

We’d like to get an update on the Yahoo! semantic indexing announcement, though, and presumably this is the kind of thing that Google will do soon as well.

Privacy Backlash

As Google grows continually stronger and more knowledgeable, the importance of the social contract between the company and its customers becomes increasingly more important. Google has not been as good as it needs to be about taking clear steps to guarantee security and prevent misuse of user data – including its own misuse of that data!

We wrote in February about how Microsoft’s new levels of engagement with oppenness and data portability could offer an avenue to challenge Google, but few of our readers agreed in comments. You know what they say, though – if your mouth gets washed out with soap, you may be saying something important!

It may not be Microsoft that challenges Google, but it certainly seems possible that users will draw the line somewhere and look to limit Google’s omniscience.

Perhaps not, though. Perhaps Google’s search dominance will continue to grow and grow, month over month, year over year. Someday, if you want to know about your genetic propensity for a particular disease, you’ll just as the Google. If you want to know what your kids are doing at home while you’re away, you’ll just ask the Google. Certainly today when we want to know what’s on the web, a clear majority of us just ask the Google.

smarket.png

Read Full Post »


Report: Semantic Web Companies Are, or Will Soon Begin, Making Money

Written by Marshall Kirkpatrick / October 3, 2008 5:13 PM / 14 Comments


provostpic-1.jpgSemantic Web entrepreneur David Provost has published a report about the state of business in the Semantic Web and it’s a good read for anyone interested in the sector. It’s titled On the Cusp: A Global Review of the Semantic Web Industry. We also mentioned it in our post Where Are All The RDF-based Semantic Web Apps?.

The Semantic Web is a collection of technologies that makes the meaning of content online understandable by machines. After surveying 17 Semantic Web companies, Provost concludes that Semantic science is being productized, differentiated, invested in by mainstream players and increasingly sought after in the business world.

Provost aims to use real-world examples to articulate the value proposition of the Semantic Web in accessible, non-technical language. That there are enough examples available for him to do this is great. His conclusions don’t always seem as well supported by his evidence as he’d like – but the profiles he writes of 17 Semantic Web companies are very interesting to read.

What are these companies doing? Provost writes:

“..some companies are beginning to focus on specific uses of Semantic technology to create solutions in areas like knowledge management, risk management, content management and more. This is a key development in the Semantic Web industry because until fairly recently, most vendors simply sold development tools.”

 

The report surveys companies ranging from the innovative but unlaunched Anzo for Excel from Cambridge Semantics, to well-known big players like Down Jones Client Solutions and RWW sponsor Reuters Calais Initiative, to relatively unknown big players like the already very commercialized Expert System. 10 of the companies were from the US, 6 from Europe and 1 from South Korea.

semwebchart.jpgAbove: Chart from Provost’s report.We’ve been wanting to learn more about “under the radar” but commercialized semantic web companies ever since doing a briefing with Expert System a few months ago. We had never heard of the Italian company before, but they believe they already have they have a richer, deeper semantic index than anyone else online. They told us their database at the time contained 350k English words and 2.8m relationships between them. including geographic representations. They power Microsoft’s spell checker and the Natural Language Processing (NLP) in the Blackberry. They also sell NLP software to the US military and Department of Homeland Security, which didn’t seem like anything to brag about to us but presumably makes up a significant part of the $12 million+ in revenue they told Provost they made last year.

And some people say the Semantic Web only exists inside the laboratories of Web 3.0 eggheads!

Shortcomings of the Report

Provost writes that “the vendors [in] this report have all the appearances of thriving, emerging technology companies and they have shown their readiness to cross borders, continents, and oceans to reach customers.” You’d think they turned water into wine. Those are strong words for a study in which only 4 of 17 companies were willing to report their revenue and several hadn’t launched products yet.

The logic here is sometimes pretty amazing.

The above examples [there were two discussed – RWW] are just a brief sampling of the commercial success that the Semantic Web has been experiencing. In broad terms, it’s easy to point out the longevity of many companies in this industry and use that as a proxy for commercial success [wow – RWW]. With more time (and space in this report), additional examples could be described but the most interesting prospect pertains to what the industry landscape will look like in twelve months. [hmmm…-RWW]

 

In fact, while Provost has glowingly positive things to about all the companies he surveyed, the absence of engagement with any of their shortcomings makes the report read more like marketing material than any objective take on what’s supposed to be world-changing technology.

This is a Fun Read

The fact is, though, that Provost writes a great introduction to many companies working to sell software in a field still too widely believed to be ephemeral. The stories of each of the 17 companies profiled are fun to read and many of Provost’s points of analysis are both intuitive and thought provoking.

He says the sector is “on the cusp” of major penetration into existing markets currently served by non-semantic software. Provost argues that the Semantic Web struggles to explain itself because the World Wide Web is so intensely visual and semantics are not. He says that reselling business partners in specific distribution channels are combining their domain knowledge with the science of the software developers to bring these tools to market. He tells a great, if unattributed, story about what Linked Data could mean to the banking industry.

We hadn’t heard of several of the companies profiled in the report, and a handful of them had never been mentioned by the 34 semantic web specialist blogs we track, either.

There’s something here for everyone. You can read the full report here.

Read Full Post »


The Semantic Desktop? SDS Brings Semantics To Excel

Written by Sarah Perez / August 13, 2008 6:30 AM / 6 Comments


When you hear the word “semantic” you likely think of the semantic web – the supposed next iteration of the World Wide Web that features structured data and specific protocols that aim to bring about an “intelligent” web. But the concept of semantics doesn’t necessarily apply just to the web – it can apply to other things as well, like your desktop…or even your Excel spreadsheets, according to Ian Goldsmid, founder of Semantic Business Intelligence, whose new app, SDS, brings a semantic system to spreadsheets.

Semantic Spreadsheets

The problem with spreadsheets that their system is trying to address has to do with those who need to derive data from multiple spreadsheets (two or more). Although it’s easy enough to perform sorts, build macros, and create formulas within one spreadsheet, when needing to compare values in multiple spreadsheets the process becomes more difficult.

The company’s app, The Semantic Discovery System for Excel, or just SDS for short, will look for similar columns or rows between the sheets and then “semantically” connects them. They don’t appear to just be throwing that term around either – the app uses the same W3C Semantic Web technologies (RDF, OWL, SPARQL) to help you capture “meaning, intelligence, and knowledge” from the data saved in your spreadsheets.

Do We Need Semantic Desktop Apps?

Does SDS solve a business problem that is not yet being addressed through current technologies? In my experience, the short answer to this question is “no.” (But wait, there’s more…)

Typically, when a business has need of comparing and analyzing large amounts of data, the solution is to turn to a database product that can then be queried and from which custom reports can be pulled. And a business doesn’t need to spend a lot of money on a robust solution to do so – even a smaller business can create a database by using inexpensive desktop software.

However, the difference between using a database technology and “semantically connecting” some spreadsheets comes down to for whom this product is being built. In the past, databases and other business intelligence apps were built as if the creators knew that the only person using them would be an I.T. guy or gal. SDS, instead, aims to satisfy the needs of the non-technical end user.

Is this another example of tech populism at work? It certainly looks like it. Yet, in this case their market is small – a non-technical user who’s also a power user with Excel? There’s usually some overlap there. Not to mention, by the time you’ve achieved “power user” status, you’ve often also figured out how to do more complicated things in Excel…like, say, formulas that work across spreadsheets, for example – the very pain points this app is trying to address.

Still, it’s an interesting concept to think of taking the semantic web capabilities and integrating them into everyday programs to add a layer of intelligence to these programs as well. Done correctly, it could improve the capabilities of our favorite software apps without making the programs overly complex, which is what typically happens when you add more features.

What do you think? Is the Semantic Desktop (that is, semantically-enabled desktop apps) right around the corner? Or is this product and those like it too niche to find an audience? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Read Full Post »

10 Semantic Apps to Watch

Written by Richard MacManus / November 29, 2007 12:30 AM / 39 Comments


One of the highlights of October’s Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco was the emergence of ‘Semantic Apps’ as a force. Note that we’re not necessarily talking about the Semantic Web, which is the Tim Berners-Lee W3C led initiative that touts technologies like RDF, OWL and other standards for metadata. Semantic Apps may use those technologies, but not necessarily. This was a point made by the founder of one of the Semantic Apps listed below, Danny Hillis of Freebase (who is as much a tech legend as Berners-Lee).

The purpose of this post is to highlight 10 Semantic Apps. We’re not touting this as a ‘Top 10’, because there is no way to rank these apps at this point – many are still non-public apps, e.g. in private beta. It reflects the nascent status of this sector, even though people like Hillis and Spivack have been working on their apps for years now.

What is a Semantic App?

Firstly let’s define “Semantic App”. A key element is that the apps below all try to determine the meaning of text and other data, and then create connections for users. Another of the founders mentioned below, Nova Spivack of Twine, noted at the Summit that data portability and connectibility are keys to these new semantic apps – i.e. using the Web as platform.

In September Alex Iskold wrote a great primer on this topic, called Top-Down: A New Approach to the Semantic Web. In that post, Alex Iskold explained that there are two main approaches to Semantic Apps:

1) Bottom Up – involves embedding semantical annotations (meta-data) right into the data.
2) Top down – relies on analyzing existing information; the ultimate top-down solution would be a fully blown natural language processor, which is able to understand text like people do.

Now that we know what Semantic Apps are, let’s take a look at some of the current leading (or promising) products…

Freebase

Freebase aims to “open up the silos of data and the connections between them”, according to founder Danny Hillis at the Web 2.0 Summit. Freebase is a database that has all kinds of data in it and an API. Because it’s an open database, anyone can enter new data in Freebase. An example page in the Freebase db looks pretty similar to a Wikipedia page. When you enter new data, the app can make suggestions about content. The topics in Freebase are organized by type, and you can connect pages with links, semantic tagging. So in summary, Freebase is all about shared data and what you can do with it.

Powerset

Powerset (see our coverage here and here) is a natural language search engine. The system relies on semantic technologies that have only become available in the last few years. It can make “semantic connections”, which helps make the semantic database. The idea is that meaning and knowledge gets extracted automatically from Powerset. The product isn’t yet public, but it has been riding a wave of publicity over 2007.

Twine

Twine claims to be the first mainstream Semantic Web app, although it is still in private beta. See our in-depth review. Twine automatically learns about you and your interests as you populate it with content – a “Semantic Graph”. When you put in new data, Twine picks out and tags certain content with semantic tags – e.g. the name of a person. An important point is that Twine creates new semantic and rich data. But it’s not all user-generated. They’ve also done machine learning against Wikipedia to ‘learn’ about new concepts. And they will eventually tie into services like Freebase. At the Web 2.0 Summit, founder Nova Spivack compared Twine to Google, saying it is a “bottom-up, user generated crawl of the Web”.

AdaptiveBlue

AdaptiveBlue are makers of the Firefox plugin, BlueOrganizer. They also recently launched a new version of their SmartLinks product, which allows web site publishers to add semantically charged links to their site. SmartLinks are browser ‘in-page overlays’ (similar to popups) that add additional contextual information to certain types of links, including links to books, movies, music, stocks, and wine. AdaptiveBlue supports a large list of top web sites, automatically recognizing and augmenting links to those properties.

SmartLinks works by understanding specific types of information (in this case links) and wrapping them with additional data. SmartLinks takes unstructured information and turns it into structured information by understanding a basic item on the web and adding semantics to it.

[Disclosure: AdaptiveBlue founder and CEO Alex Iskold is a regular RWW writer]

Hakia

Hakia is one of the more promising Alt Search Engines around, with a focus on natural language processing methods to try and deliver ‘meaningful’ search results. Hakia attempts to analyze the concept of a search query, in particular by doing sentence analysis. Most other major search engines, including Google, analyze keywords. The company told us in a March interview that the future of search engines will go beyond keyword analysis – search engines will talk back to you and in effect become your search assistant. One point worth noting here is that, currently, Hakia has limited post-editing/human interaction for the editing of hakia Galleries, but the rest of the engine is 100% computer powered.

Hakia has two main technologies:

1) QDEX Infrastructure (which stands for Query Detection and Extraction) – this does the heavy lifting of analyzing search queries at a sentence level.

2) SemanticRank Algorithm – this is essentially the science they use, made up of ontological semantics that relate concepts to each other.

Talis

Talis is a 40-year old UK software company which has created a semantic web application platform. They are a bit different from the other 9 companies profiled here, as Talis has released a platform and not a single product. The Talis platform is kind of a mix between Web 2.0 and the Semantic Web, in that it enables developers to create apps that allow for sharing, remixing and re-using data. Talis believes that Open Data is a crucial component of the Web, yet there is also a need to license data in order to ensure its openness. Talis has developed its own content license, called the Talis Community License, and recently they funded some legal work around the Open Data Commons License.

According to Dr Paul Miller, Technology Evangelist at Talis, the company’s platform emphasizes “the importance of context, role, intention and attention in meaningfully tracking behaviour across the web.” To find out more about Talis, check out their regular podcasts – the most recent one features Kaila Colbin (an occassional AltSearchEngines correspondent) and Branton Kenton-Dau of VortexDNA.

UPDATE: Marshall Kirkpatrick published an interview with Dr Miller the day after this post. Check it out here.

TrueKnowledge

Venture funded UK semantic search engine TrueKnowledge unveiled a demo of its private beta earlier this month. It reminded Marshall Kirkpatrick of the still-unlaunched Powerset, but it’s also reminiscent of the very real Ask.com “smart answers”. TrueKnowledge combines natural language analysis, an internal knowledge base and external databases to offer immediate answers to various questions. Instead of just pointing you to web pages where the search engine believes it can find your answer, it will offer you an explicit answer and explain the reasoning patch by which that answer was arrived at. There’s also an interesting looking API at the center of the product. “Direct answers to humans and machine questions” is the company’s tagline.

Founder William Tunstall-Pedoe said he’s been working on the software for the past 10 years, really putting time into it since coming into initial funding in early 2005.

TripIt

Tripit is an app that manages your travel planning. Emre Sokullu reviewed it when it presented at TechCrunch40 in September. With TripIt, you forward incoming bookings to plans@tripit.com and the system manages the rest. Their patent pending “itinerator” technology is a baby step in the semantic web – it extracts useful infomation from these mails and makes a well structured and organized presentation of your travel plan. It pulls out information from Wikipedia for the places that you visit. It uses microformats – the iCal format, which is well integrated into GCalendar and other calendar software.

The company claimed at TC40 that “instead of dealing with 20 pages of planning, you just print out 3 pages and everything is done for you”. Their future plans include a recommendation engine which will tell you where to go and who to meet.

Clear Forest

ClearForest is one of the companies in the top-down camp. We profiled the product in December ’06 and at that point ClearForest was applying its core natural language processing technology to facilitate next generation semantic applications. In April 2007 the company was acquired by Reuters. The company has both a Web Service and a Firefox extension that leverages an API to deliver the end-user application.

The Firefox extension is called Gnosis and it enables you to “identify the people, companies, organizations, geographies and products on the page you are viewing.” With one click from the menu, a webpage you view via Gnosis is filled with various types of annotations. For example it recognizes Companies, Countries, Industry Terms, Organizations, People, Products and Technologies. Each word that Gnosis recognizes, gets colored according to the category.

Also, ClearForest’s Semantic Web Service offers a SOAP interface for analyzing text, documents and web pages.

Spock

Spock is a people search engine that got a lot of buzz when it launched. Alex Iskold went so far as to call it “one of the best vertical semantic search engines built so far.” According to Alex there are four things that makes their approach special:

  • The person-centric perspective of a query
  • Rich set of attributes that characterize people (geography, birthday, occupation, etc.)
  • Usage of tags as links or relationships between people
  • Self-correcting mechanism via user feedback loop

As a vertical engine, Spock knows important attributes that people have: name, gender, age, occupation and location just to name a few. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Spock is its usage of tags – all frequent phrases that Spock extracts via its crawler become tags; and also users can add tags. So Spock leverages a combination of automated tags and people power for tagging.

Conclusion

What have we missed? 😉 Please use the comments to list other Semantic Apps you know of. It’s an exciting sector right now, because Semantic Web and Web 2.0 technologies alike are being used to create new semantic applications. One gets the feeling we’re only at the beginning of this trend.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: