March 23, 2009

Wolfram Alpha: A New Kind of Question-Answering System

There has been much excitement recently over the upcoming launch of Wolfram Alpha. This is a new question-answering system developed by Stephen Wolfram, inventor of Mathematica, and it is scheduled for a beta launch in May. Wolfram has been providing demos to industry insiders. I haven’t had a demo yet, but I have learned what I could from reading articles by Nova Spivak (“Wolfram Alpha computes answers to factual questions. This is going to be big”) and Doug Lenat (“I was positively impressed with Wolfram Alpha”). And this weekend I spoke with William Tunstall-Pedoe, CEO of True Knowledge, who also got a demo. Many of my examples and conclusions come from conversation with William (thanks!). Since life is short and so is the attention of web readers, I’ll give the rest of my thoughts in bullet form.

What it is: A new kind of question-answering system.


Coverage of data: It answers questions over the following types of structured data:

continue reading the Wolfram Alpha: A New Kind of Question-Answering System

Posted by barney on March 23, 2009 at 10:03 pm | No Comments

March 25, 2008

Semantic Web Patterns: A Guide to Semantic Technologies – ReadWriteWeb
Alex Iskold wrote a nice article that provides an overview and categorization of semantic web approaches, technologies, and companies.
Here are a few key points from the article, interspersed with some of my own perspectives.

I highly recommend this article to people interested in semantic technologies and search. For my own perspective on the relationship between natural language, search, and the semantic web, you can see the video and presentation of my Keynote Talk at the 2007 International Semantic Web Conference, entitled Natural Language and the Semantic Web.

Posted by barney on March 25, 2008 at 9:04 pm | No Comments

January 20, 2008

Crunchies 2007 Award Ceremony and After Party

Crunchies 2007 After Party, originally uploaded by Zivity.

Yesterday I attended The Crunchies, an award ceremony to honor innovation in the tech community. The event was organized by TechCrunch, GigaOm, ReadWriteWeb, and VentureBeat.

My personal highlights from the award ceremony were:

The After Party took place in the famous Green Room. My group had to wait a little while to get into the party, which exceeded the capacity of the room. The wait itself was fun because we were joined in line by MC Hammer. The party was enlivened by a photo activity sponsored by Zivity. In his award introduction Luke Nosek had described Zivity as “Myspace for Grownups.” People took photos with props, costumes, and attitudes, accompanied by several Zivity models. I included a photo of me (in cowboy hat) with Pearl and Cyan in this post. The rest of the collection is fun.
Overall, while the event had its ups and downs, there was really a nice sense of community and cameraderie in both the presentations and in the audience. The award recipients made really brief and generally humble speeches (with the exception of Fake Steve Jobs, of course), most of them thanking their engineers and their moms. The videos shown during the ceremony were mostly sent in by nominated companies. Altogether it felt more like a summer camp show than the Oscars and it is good to see our community not taking itself too seriously. On that note, it was great to see Om Malik on stage at the event shortly after recovering from a heart attack that had left him hospitalized and the subject of much concern among his friends. When people saw him at the event there much applause and support.
I took some photos of the event myself and plan to post them here soon.

Posted by barney on January 20, 2008 at 6:49 pm | No Comments

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