Uber Tag Search?

Brian Dear imagines a search engine where all user-generated tag information is searchable – an engine that confederates the various nations of Flickr, iTunes, etc. Neat idea, and certainly another step toward the semantic web vision. . . . if more and more services in 2005 add user-generated tagging,…

TaggleBrian Dear imagines a search engine where all user-generated tag information is searchable – an engine that confederates the various nations of Flickr, iTunes, etc. Neat idea, and certainly another step toward the semantic web vision.

. . . if more and more services in 2005 add user-generated tagging, will “federated tagging” be far behind? And if someone were to index all the tags from these various sites…. would the result be Taggle? Imagine: a service where you type in a keyword, and you get back all the hits that have that word as a tag. If Flickr, del.icio.us, and umpteen other sites cooperated, then an uber-tag-search service might just work . . .

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Google Desktop Security: Welcome to the Software Biz

As I noted when GDS first came out, once you start providing serious PC-based software and integrate it with an internet service, you can become a target of hackers. The Times today writes about the security flaw initially discovered by Rice researchers. Google has already posted an updated version…

As I noted when GDS first came out, once you start providing serious PC-based software and integrate it with an internet service, you can become a target of hackers. The Times today writes about the security flaw initially discovered by Rice researchers. Google has already posted an updated version of GDS.

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AOL (Netscape) Tosses Hat Back In Browser Ring

From The Standard (I still love being able to say that, even if the site is only running IDG newsservice stuff): America Online Inc. (AOL) on Tuesday released a preview version of a new Netscape Web browser that is based on the open-source Firefox Web browser, but also supports Microsoft…

netscapeFrom The Standard (I still love being able to say that, even if the site is only running IDG newsservice stuff):

America Online Inc. (AOL) on Tuesday released a preview version of a new Netscape Web browser that is based on the open-source Firefox Web browser, but also supports Microsoft Corp.’s Internet Explorer (IE) browser engine. IE is part of Windows and is used by the great majority of Web users. Many Web sites have been designed specifically to work with the Microsoft browser and may not work correctly in browsers using other engines, including the Gecko engine in Firefox.

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Grokking Wondir

Spent some time on the phone today grokking Wondir with its founder, Matthew Koll. Matt has a long and distinguished history in search, starting back in the non-web days (he created a text search engine in the early 90s which he sold to AOL in 1998) and running up into…

wondirSpent some time on the phone today grokking Wondir with its founder, Matthew Koll. Matt has a long and distinguished history in search, starting back in the non-web days (he created a text search engine in the early 90s which he sold to AOL in 1998) and running up into the present.

Wondir is, at its core, a question answering service. Wondir itself is more than two years old, but Koll only recently took the “beta” off the service and turned it into a for-profit enterprise. While there are loads of question answering services on the web, this one is different in some important ways. First off, it feels like a search engine. That’s intentional, Koll told me, as he feels the process of finding answers through chat rooms and usenet like forums is cumbersome and unintuitive. Secondly, Wondir aggregates questions and answers through the architecture of participation, essentially getting its questioners to become answerers, and vice versa. This is non trivial – getting people to answer questions is not as easy as it might seem. But Koll has thought through all of this, and I like where this service is going.

wondir2You don’t have to register to ask a question, but it pays if you do, because then your answer can be sent to you (and you can also tell Wondir areas of your own expertise, and it will notify you of questions that come in that you can answer if you wish to). When you do ask a question (in plain english), Wondir does a number of clever things. First, it parses your question’s text and categorizes it in any number of potential topic clusters. It then alerts registered users who have raised their hands as willing to answer questions in those topics, either through email, RSS (soon), or IM. It also posts the question right there on the service, in a scrolling ticker below the search box. Wondir has any number of categories in a pull down menu, and when you select a category, the questions scrolling across the bottom change as well (the questions in the “mature content” area are a hoot).

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Google Takes Another Step Toward Becoming Development Environment

Just got this note from Google PR on the beta introduction of the Google Deskbar API. Today, Google announced the availability of the Google Deskbar API (application programming interface). This technology makes it possible for software developers to build their own features, or plug-ins, for the popular Google Deskbar. For…

Just got this note from Google PR on the beta introduction of the Google Deskbar API.

Today, Google announced the availability of the Google Deskbar API
(application programming interface). This technology makes it possible for
software developers to build their own features, or plug-ins, for the
popular Google Deskbar.

For instance, a developer could use Google Deskbar APIs to create a movie
search command that enables users to search their favorite movie site by
entering a movie name into the Deskbar search field and typing a special
command such as “Ctrl’M.” Other examples include:

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JotSpot Finds A Need

Pleased to report that Joe and Graham's JotSpot, which launched at Web 2.0, has nearly 3000 beta users since launch, and is really starting to take off….

jotspot_logoPleased to report that Joe and Graham’s JotSpot, which launched at Web 2.0, has nearly 3000 beta users since launch, and is really starting to take off.

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Neat: IM Interview

The folks over at the Alarm Clock IM'd me and ran the transcript as a feature on their site. Neat idea – IM as interview. Subject is Web 2.0…….

The folks over at the Alarm Clock IM’d me and ran the transcript as a feature on their site. Neat idea – IM as interview. Subject is Web 2.0….

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Google’s Web 2 Demo and the UI Plunge

As many have already noted, last week at Web 2.0 Peter Norvig, Google director of search quality, demonstrated word clustering, "named entities," and machine translation technology to the audience. The translation software was impressive, but somehow lacked zing – "good enough" translation doesn't seem like much of a revelation anymore….

labs_logo2As many have already noted, last week at Web 2.0 Peter Norvig, Google director of search quality, demonstrated word clustering, “named entities,” and machine translation technology to the audience. The translation software was impressive, but somehow lacked zing – “good enough” translation doesn’t seem like much of a revelation anymore. That in itself is an extraordinary achievement – Norvig showed translations from Arabic and Chinese – both significantly distinct languages compared to English. Google already has translation features built into its engine (from a third party), but this hand-rolled stuff was far more powerful, it seemed to me.

In any case, the demos that really got the audience going (and me, to be honest) was the named entities and the clustering technology. Seeing anything behind the veil of Google’s real research and development is of course a revelation, but seeing something that was so clearly ready for prime time felt rather close to a declaration of where Google is heading, in particular given the recent moves in the personalization and clustering space from Amazon, Ask, Vivisimo, and Yahoo.

“Named entity extraction” is a relatively new project called which Norvig said Google had been working on for about six months. As Norvig explained the concept – essentially identifying semantically important concepts and the meaning wrapped around them – I couldn’t help but think of WebFountain and my wish (near the end of the post) that Google would add a bit of IBM’s semantic peanut butter into its PageRank chocolate.

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Some Caution In Web 2.0

Jason Fried of Basecamp/37 Signals reminds us to stay lightweight, and don't believe the hype. I very much hope the conference, which certainly was upbeat, was not considered hype. It's true, I focused on that which I found interesting, astounding, important, and new…which really does create a bit of novelty…

Jason Fried of Basecamp/37 Signals reminds us to stay lightweight, and don’t believe the hype. I very much hope the conference, which certainly was upbeat, was not considered hype. It’s true, I focused on that which I found interesting, astounding, important, and new…which really does create a bit of novelty exhaustion, as Kottke puts it, over the course of a three-day event.

In any case, I certainly agree with Jason Fried’s advice:

My advice to these new companies with their new products and fresh-faced enthusiasm… Keep it small. Start small and stay small. Borrow from yourself before you borrow from someone else. You can have an impact with just a few people. You can build great products with a small team. You can do it on your own. You can.

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