It’s interesting to note IBM’s strategy here. They are not opening it up to the world and creating another Alta Vista/Google moment, though I believe they clearly could. They are keeping this as a behind the scenes, OEM/consulting play. Their bread is not buttered in consumerland. It’s all about the enterprise, and marketing support, or “buzz reports” as the Merc calls them.
Buzz…or buzzkill? Check this passage from the Merc’s rather short piece:
Gruhl says another client, a security company, wanted to be able to predict for banks whether customers depositing large amounts of cash are connected to money launderers. WebFountain gathered publicly available information, as well as a corporate client’s own internal files, about known money launderers. It then searched through Web data — from newspaper wedding announcements to high school reunion Web sites — to draw any association between bank customers and known criminals. If the links show that someone’s wife has a best friend who is a money launderer, then the bank may have reason to refuse the customer’s money.
In contrast to standard search engines that just match patterns, WebFountain takes a subject and analyzes it in 50 different ways, noting how often someone’s name is associated with someone else’s, all in an effort to get a more precise answer to a query.
I’m sure the intelligence community hasn’t been paying attention….
Longer piece on WebFountain via ZDNet here.