Web 3.0 Watch: Searching the Deep Web

The push for the semantic web continues: The New York Times has an interesting article on how search engines are trying to learn how to peer in to the endless abyss that is the deep web (“Exploring a ‘Deep Web’ That Google Can’t Grasp“).  You thought Google gave you a million results now?  It can’t even peer into the millions of databases out there that contain the real information that drives the web.  Some day, if some of these people have their say, it will.

Don’t freak out and run for the hills now – just because they want to search more sites, this doesn’t mean your searches will become even more confusing.  They are actually looking on logic for where they search.  So, searching for an art-related term will just search art-related databases and return relevant results.

Google isn’t the only one that is looking in to this – companies like Kosmix and Deep Peep are both looking for ways to not only search the deep web, but to return meaningful results.  Am I the only one that finds the name ‘Deep Peep’ creepy?  Hope your filters aren’t blocking this post because if the creepiness factor.  Both sites take an interesting angle on the deep web.  I would keep them handy for class research projects if I were you.

The NY Times article mentions Google’s Deep Web search strategy, but I can’t find anything official on it when I search for it using Google itself.  Guess it is too deep even for it’s own search engine to find anything on it yet…

Web 3.0 Watch: Online Personal Assistants

Many people talk about the semantic web, where websites will begin to basically think smarter and give you better service and search results because they can understand the difference between, say, an edible nut and a crazy nut.

The nut example is commonly used to describe the semantic web, but is there more to that?  An article in the New York Times seems to think so, and also seems to think that we may be close to having these services.  Take this example in the article titled “A Software Secretary That Takes Charge” by John Markoff:

Imagine you are on a business trip and your computer discovers that your flight will be late. It automatically reschedules your dinner in New York, informs your three guests of the change and tells you they’ve been notified.

Basically, a website that can recognize “late = bad” and that “bad = do something.”  So, imagine if Learning Management Systems could do this?  A week before a paper is due, it notices that not even a rough draft has been submitted, so a notice goes out to the student about the deadline, or even starts a private discussion thread between the instructor and learner so they can dialogue about the paper, checks the registrar’s database to see if the student might have dropped the class, etc.  That is a pretty simple example, but there could be more to it than that.

Personal research assistants would be nice, of course – especially ones that can recognize specific articles and blog posts that match your paper’s topic.  What if you were working on paper in Google Docs or Zoho Writer and every day that you signed in you got a list of links to articles, news stories, blog posts, Flickr images, YouTube videos, etc that matched what you were writing about.  And not just billions of Google search-like links to anything that contains the same keywords your paper does, but a short list of specific resources that you could actually use?

As long as they don’t come up with a site that actually writes original papers for you, this could be great.

True Knowledge’s Natural Language Search Engine

TechCrunch posted yesterday about the new natural language search engine by True Knowledge. While traditional search engines direct the user to a list of websites based on statistical analysis of key terms in the word or phrase being searched for, this natural language search engine actually translates the question (or phrase) into a query that returns real answers.

The video demoing the site and explaining the technology behind this powerful form of searching is very intriguing. You can see exactly how this type of site differs greatly and can be much more useful than your standard Google search engine.

Video Blurbs: Multitouch Interface and the Semantic Web

Turns out that MIT’s Technology Review is a very interesting site. (No surprise there. How much more wonderfully geeky can you get than MIT?) While browsing their site, I found their Documentaries section to have several interesting video clips, two of which I thought fellow edugeeks would find interesting.

Jeff Han on a Better Interface
I know I’ve mentioned this before, but Tech Review currently has an interesting video available titled “Jeff Han on a Better Interface”. Not only does the video discuss the obvious advantages multitouch functionality provides in terms of user interface, but he also discusses multitouch in relation to mirror and virtual worlds, collaboration, and information management.
[Jeff Han on a Better Interface]

Tim Berners-Lee on the Semantic Web
The inventor of the World Wide Web explains how the Semantic Web works and how it will transform how we use and understand data.
[Tim Berners-Lee on the Semantic Web]