Posts Tagged ‘search interfaces’

At the Atlanta Semantic Web Meetup tonight, Vishy Dasari gave us a quick description and demo of a new search engine called Semantifi. ¬†They purportedly are a search engine for the deep web, meaning the web that is not indexed by traditional search engines because the content is dynamic. ¬†They are just in the very early stages, but have opened the site for people to play with and add data to via “Apps.” ¬†These apps are sort of like agents that respond to queries, returning results to some marshal process that decides which App will get the right to answer. ¬†Results are ranked by some method I wasn’t able to ascertain, but it reminded me of how Amy Iris works. ¬†These apps form the backbone of the Semantifi system, it seems, and they are crowdsourcing their creation. ¬†You can create a very simple app to return answers on your own data set in a few short minutes.

Perhaps more interesting is that they use a natural language interface in addition to the standard query sort of interface we’re all used to. ¬†Given the small amount of data currently available, I couldn’t really determine just how well this interface performs. ¬†It is based on a cognitive theory by John Hawks (sp?) that apparently states we think in terms of patterns. ¬†That’s very general and I haven’t been able to chase down that reference — and I forgot to ask Vishy for more info at the meetup. ¬†If someone can clear that up for me, I’d be grateful. ¬†The only seemingly relevant¬†John Hawks I could find is a paleoanthropologist, so not sure. ¬†Anyhow, these patterns are what Vishy says the system uses to interpret natural language input. ¬†That may be a grandiose way of saying n-gram matching.

While Wolfram|Alpha is a computational knowledge engine‚ĄĘ, Semantifi does not make that claim. Apps may compute certain things like mortgage values, but it’s not a general purpose calculator. ¬†However, Semantifi is looking at bringing in unstructured data from blogs and the like, that W|A ignores. ¬†It remains to be seen what that will look like, though. ¬†Also, users can contribute to Semantifi while W|A is a black box. ¬†In any case, they are making interesting claims and I look forward to seeing how they play out with more data.

Note: All of my observations are based on notes and memories of tonight’s presentation, so if I made any mistakes please post corrections in the comments or email me.

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