Jason Ball's TechBytes

Technology & Venture Capital. Early stage venture capital news mixed with personal views and comments

The Future of Search

I've been blogging about the search space for a couple of years, and this has to be one of the most promising developments I've seen: Wolfram Alpha

While Nova Spivak has an excellent overview of what Wolfram Alpha is trying to achieve, this will give you an idea:

Where Google is a system for FINDING things that we as a civilization collectively publish, Wolfram Alpha is for COMPUTING answers to questions about what we as a civilization collectively know. It's the next step in the distribution of knowledge and intelligence around the world — a new leap in the intelligence of our collective "Global Brain." And like any big next-step, Wolfram Alpha works in a new way — it computes answers instead of just looking them up.

Doug Lenat has also posted his thoughts on Wolfram Alpha.

The wrapper comes off in two months for everyone to access the service. I can't wait.


Filed under: Search

Google’s Search goes open: Wiki-style

I couldn’t believe my eyes this morning when I ran a search on Google. If you are signed in, you can now promote results as well as leave comments. I had asked a Googler last year when they were going to meld Bookmark Sync (social ranking) to Google’s PageRank. This is equally good/better.

Google’s been wikified.

This appears to be a staged roll out, so here’s a screen shot showing where you can promote, remove or comment on a result:

Google search 2

There’s also a video on YouTube demonstrating Google’s SearchWiki in action.

Filed under: Search

Nsyght – Social Search Beta released

Nsyght_beta
The guys over at nsyght have been burning the midnight oil… they released a beta version of the social search engine today, and techcrunch has a full blown review.

As Mike points out on the UK site:

This tiny boostrapped startup from West London wants to take your bookmarks and social network and use that to create more relevant search results. The idea is that, over time,a user will have a totally custom-built search index specific to them and their tastes…

…Try a search on “iPhone development” across Wikia, Nsyght and Google. Nsyght comes off pretty well – and they don’t have anywhere close to Wikia’s funding.

In my experience, I would agree- a search like iphone development will give you good results (pretty much any early adopter/geek search will yield better results than Google, et al.) If you haven’t taken time to test “social driven search”, now’s the time to do so…

Filed under: Search

Social Search- Mahalo’s new move

I posted last week about Google’s recent foray into social search. My friends over at Mahalo launched Mahalo Social at LeWeb3 this morning, which adds the social graph to Mahalo’s search results.

The profile pages (see C.K.’s here) allow you to contribute to the results pages and see what your friends are recommending as well.

Oddly, it allows you to add other sites/bookmarks etc, but that doesn’t seem to incorporate those inputs into a recommendation. Not sure why they haven’t chosen to take on as many pre-bookmarked sites as possible to help prime the “recommended links” pump. Perhaps they’ll switch that on in a few weeks time.

One thing that is clear- Mahalo’s search results are becoming better- and more robust. I also think we’ll see a loosening of the “guided” Mahalo over the coming months- with increasing emphasis on the madness of crowds…

Filed under: Search

Social Search – The Race

Nic posted yesterday about the social search space. I’d highlighted one of the companies he mentioned in an earlier post, Nsyght. I tend to follow the search space closely and have wondered out loud "why isn’t google leveraging social input" to further tweak their algorithms?

It appears I won’t have to wait long to see what Google is cooking up:

a840e102_screen.jpg

This Google experiment page isn’t active yet, so you can’t use it, but does describe how social ranking works.

This experiment lets you influence your search experience by adding, moving, and removing search results. When you search for the same keywords again, you’ll continue to see those changes. If you later want to revert your changes, you can undo any modifications you’ve made. Note that this is an experimental feature and may be available for only a few weeks.

The same way that the YouTube video ads are very primitive, expect to see the social tweaking component of Google’s results become more sophisticated…

Filed under: Search

Nsyght- Social Search Bookmark Drive

nsyght-l.png

The guys over at Nsyght have asked that I help spread the word about their “bookmark drive”:

Nsyght is building what we hope to be a new type of social search, a search that is directly driven and personalized by your bookmarks. What does that mean? It means we only search what you tell us to by the bookmarks you submit. The more bookmarks, the more pages and sites we crawl.

While we are just an alpha, our technology already does just that. But in order to grow and show more general searches (ie a search that does not match any pages in your bookmark list) we need more bookmarks to be populated in our system. Now if you have a delicious or magnolia account, we make this rather easy. Just tell us your username details and we will do the rest.

If you have any friends or buddies in your social network that has a lot of bookmarks, ask them to stop on by to help us out. The more bookmarks we get, the better and more custom Nsyght’s search will be.

I signed up when they took the wrappers off in September and I’ve “donated” 1,500 bookmarks since then. So, sign up, dive in and help out- your search results will thank you.

And while you’re there, add me as a “friend” so that our search results get better as well…

Filed under: Search

Busy Week

The Alarm Clock reported on our follow on investment into Mirriad last week and also picked up my recent post on RSS- highlighting one of our other portfolio companies- Magpie.

Tomorrow, I’ve been asked to join a panel at Mashup Demo. Magpie are demoing their latest version of Brandwatch- hopefully there will be some prospective portfolio companies in the mix as well.

After that, it’s off to the Blognation launch party. Then Wednesday/Thursday it’s the London Edition of FOWA.

And if you don’t have enough on your plate this week, go visit Mahalo’s site. They’re delivering some great content- on everything from Amazon’s MP3 Store debut to Halo 3.

Filed under: Events, Conferences and Panels, Search, Venture Capital

Search, Europe and the essential web [updated]


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Last week was really busy, with Library House’s essential web splitting the week in half. The first session was on one of my favorite topics: Search

The lineup of new search/vertical search engines were Quintura, Migoa, extate, trexy, garlik and the todeka project.

I caught up with Douglas of extate (pic on the left) the day before at the Atlas Venture event (thanks Fred!), and he’d let me know they would be announcing funding the following day. Glad to see that extate has raised initial funding- what these guys are trying to achieve is difficult and I wish them lots of luck…

A few key points worth drawing out of the session with the corp dev teams at Google, Yahoo and News Corp are: capital efficiency is king, build to run/profit don’t build to flip plus a few things from their shopping list: geospatial apps, checkout and mobile.

The final point was the pervading theme throughout the event: Europe is hot, and London is hotter.

…and I couldn’t agree more (after all, not living in the US was a conscious decision).

Elsewhere in the World of Search, I’ve been using lijit (now the default search engine on this site), Spock and last (but not least!) Mahalo (adding mahalo to firefox’s search bar is dead easy tutorial here).

[Update]

Library House published their weekly newsletter yesterday which focused on the search companies at the essential web event. Newsletter available here.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Events, Conferences and Panels, Search

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