Building Semantic Search One Acquisition at a Time

I have been formulating some thoughts today reading about Google’s huge investment in cloud infrastructure. What are they building? I have my theories, but allow me to expand upon them here. It was learned today that ‘The Goog’ may have had ulterior motives in its recent purchase ITA. Hidden deep within bowels of ITA was a small database outfit out of Boston called Needlebase. Their expertise to quote the site, “a revolutionary platform for acquiring, integrating, cleansing, analyzing and publishing data on the web”. Without the marketing double speak they are in the data organizing business and they provide the tools to make ordered data out of chaos. As the Giga Om story by Liz Gannes describes it as a means or method of giving structure to disorganized and constantly changing data sets based about any topic, think the real-time web indexing. Semantic search is the holy grail of machine learning when it comes to information processing and categorization. For those not too familiar with Semantic data on the web think of it as meta data that gives discrete pieces of information meaning even relationships to one another. Having this power make agents of information processing more intelligent in how it handles the task of parsing and traversing links in data.  Search engines are much smarter now then they have ever been, but implementing the a semantic layer has proven difficult. And just as the likes of Yahoo, Google and Microsoft starting figuring it out the web evolved into a real-time social mess that was increasingly harder to crawl. Add to this the gated garden of its biggest competitor Facebook (and similar data silos) and you get a sense that Mountain View sees a growing threat to its search hegemony.

This explains it purchase of MetaWeb whose business is semantic tagging and organizing data. It also doesn’t hurt that they have quite a huge database of  approximately 12 million Topics or Entities. Expect this to expand exponentially as MetaWeb and Needlebase join forces to tackle this problem with Google’s engine. And what ever happen to Aardvark? Their Quora-like natural language Q & A engine that was acquired in February.  Wouldn’t this be part of their natural language search strategy? You have to read these guys approach to social search. It is mind blowing what they propose.  This proposal was inspired by the Google Founders revolutionary paper the marked the binging of the link economy.  They wish to do the same thing with people not web spiders. In all the hoopla about what Google must do to compete in social we sometimes forget (and I do too) that they are a search company. The fact that they grace us with all these cool tools (I am typing this is Google docs)  is a direct result of search and the advertising model it enables. These are all good moves by Google. They need to get better at what is the core competency of the company, search. Fusing all these things together; the vertical search play with ITA, MetaWeb, Aadvark and increased investment in cloud infrastructure will make for a compelling evolution to their search product.

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The Escalating War South of the Border

Video when the car bomb exploded in Ciudad Juarez – Noti 5 JuarezHoy

On 16 July the deadly drug war in waging in Ciudad de Juarez took a disturbing turn as a car bomb was detonated as authorities were responding to a call that a police officer had been killed. As police and and EMT’s the approached the area, a car bomb exploded. The video clearly above illustrates this. These tactics, short of being dispecetable, are those used by terrorist attacks in places like Israel and Iraq. If this was the case this represents a dangerous turn in this drug war that has claimed over 5000 lives across the country this year alone. An officer and a EMT were killed in the blast. The slain officer was the third man killed and is believed to have been the decoy. Just think about this for one second. Less than 10 miles away from where my Aunt and cousin live in El Paso the cartels are employing terrorist tactics to maintain their hold on power. These are the tactics of Hamas, Hezbollah or you name the insurgent element.

For those whom live outside of the Southwest and hence have no skin in the game this is the prime reason that places like Arizona overreact with harsh alien resident laws. This is what we worry about, we are not xenophobes. But harsh immigration laws alone aren’t going to curb the violence in Mexico. Neither is blaming the US for our drug appetites and guns Mr. Calderón. This isn’t the first drug war in that part of the world. The Colombian Drug War of the 80’s and 90’s saw similar levels of violence and in a lot of cases still do. My belief is that we saw an increased level of illegal immigration last decade not only because of the economic opportunities here state side but people simply trying to escape the violence.  Employers here fragrantly breaking the labor laws don’t help matters either.

This is serious business down here in New Mexico, Arizona, California and Texas. This has been our reality for a better part of five years.  What this isn’t is a political mallet to club political opponents over the heads with. Instead of suing Arizona, we need to do what is necessary. We have done it before against the likes of Pablo Escobar. We need to side with the Mexican Government (or less than corrupt factions) and go to war with these bastards. It was unorthodox (and unethical tactics like employing Los Pepes) that brought down the Colombian cartels. It’s going to take evil to beget evil and that is what these animals are. As I was typing this up today yet another massacre was perpetrated at a birthday party. Activist and politicos need to get over themselves. This is for real.

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Our Hello World Inaugural Post

Welcome to Blogs@Relative Progress. This is our inaugural post. What is blogs.relativeprogress.com about? It’s random folks posting random thoughts about the world around them. Mankind’s progress has been remarkable, but relative to all social norms around us. No matter how civilized and evolved we think we are, our progress as a species is relative, hence the name.

I believe the future of this social web thing is content, curated by the social graph of consumers. We need to interject ourselves into that graph. We need people to follow us and what we think about what is happening. We hope to cultivate an environment for free thought and expression even if it isn’t the same thoughts that the masses have. We realize that all problems can have more then one solution and every opinion has equal value. Information is a raw material that will require processing to manufacture a derivative product of opinionated and curated content. That will be our mission.

We’ll try not to be an echo chamber. Here we’ll put an emphasis on original content. We know that most people find it a little frustrating to simply reread things that other people found interesting. So we’ll add more context to avoid this trap.

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