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This morning we reported on the updated product launch for NY-based semantic search provider Hakia. There were a variety of good reviews here, here, here, here, here and here. During my time at Search Marketing Expo, I met with Hakia COO Melek Pulatkonak who provided a demo and answered a few questions on how the updated Hakia search works. Check out our brief discussion below.
NY-based Hakia has announced a relaunch of their search engine service today. Hakia is a semantic search engine which uses partial human filtered results to help get past the typical search results. Today the company is adding an even stronger human element: the "credible Web sites" index.
What this means is when you complete a search on Hakia, you can select to see only sites that Hakia deems "credible". The credible sites list will be vetted by librarians and informational professionals.
Hakia has also launched "hakia Galleries" which bring together all types of search results (image, text, credible, etc.) on a topic basis. It’s an interesting way to provide the data rather than for an absolute specific query.
I like the Hakia team and love that they are in NYC. But they have to start marketing the search engine. Get up to Times Square and setup a corner where you can show tourists why Hakia is better than Google. Let those tourists go back to their countries and spread the word. Sure I am simplifying things, but they have to raise the level of awareness to drive search volume. They don’t have a CEO who can push links to tens of thousands of Twitter users for quick traffic boosting. Booths at tradeshows won’t cut it alone.
NY-based Hakia is announcing the launch of their white-label semantic Web search (they call it Syndication Web Services) today. The idea is simple – you can now add Hakia’s services to your site offering more intense search functionality for your visitors.
The business model is welcoming; offer 30,000 searches per day free of charge and free of advertising then they will discuss a relationship with you past the 30,000. What this means is that small social networks may never pay anything for using the Hakia service but provide a great benefit for their users.
The Syndication Web Services include Web search, News search, Vertical search, Summarizer, Categorizer, Characterizer and Text Meaning Representation. The services provide an XML feed, and options to customize the feed. The first company using the new service is Berggi. Berggi has created a worldwide mobile search application.
Hakia announced yesterday that they have added 10 million health articles from the U.S. government run PubMed search engine. You can now search PubMed from a special PubMed Hakia search or any nornal Hakia search will also return PubMed results. This announcement comes after Hakia announced the launch of the “credible health search“.
The Hakia blog post on the PubMed announcement is well worth a read if you are into semantic search. Apparently the PubMed search has holes that may return incorrect or no results. Hakia uses their intelligence to return relevant results.
Check out our comparison of Valley darling Powerset vs. NY-based Hakia.
With Yahoo signing away their advertising business today to Google, I thought it would be interesting to look at the major search engines and see who handles their advertising. Have a look at the list below and check out just how dominant Google is. You wonder why no one is using the other search engines — it’s easy, if the search engine can’t sell ads, perhaps their technology isn’t as good either, right? Please add other engines in the comments and I will add them to the list.
|Yahoo||Yahoo/Google||Google ads to begin in three months.|
|n/a||Facebook runs their “social ads”.|
|hakia||Yahoo||Per the conference call today, hakia will now be able to run Google ads as well|
|Mahalo||Mahalo no longer claims to be a search engine|
|Wikia||Google (see note)||No ads are displayed currently — Update: June 13 – Wikia is now displaying Google advertising|
|Twerq||n/a||No ads are displayed currently|
|a9||Amazon||Ads are related items from Amazon.com|
NY-based semantic search provider Hakia is announcing an update to their Scoopbar toolbar. We originally profiled the Scoopbar at their demo in NYC last September. There’s a demo of the Scoopbar functionality on the hakia Web site. The Scoopbar allows you to save searches and specific content from the search along with the ability to jump directly to the section of the selected search result with the terms you searched for.
Today’s addition brings social networking into play with, "Meet Others." The Meet Others option allows searchers to find other hakia users who have searched for the same terms. From there, each person can contribute to the conversation around the search terms.
Here is how Hakia positions the new Meet Others service, " Meet Others is initiated by entering a query at hakia.com search engine, then clicking on the Meet Others button which opens a room of postings by others who asked the same or similar query. The user can also go directly to meet.hakia.com to search for query rooms. Contact links are available for each posting, but user information is hidden from view. Registration is not required to view rooms and contact people, but posting requires user authentication via email confirmation. The entire operation is optional to participate."
Over the weekend, The web was abuzz with discussion about Microsoft considering the acquisition of natural language search company Powerset. Some time ago I had heard a rumor that someone was looking at Powerset, but was relatively uninterested. Hearing that the potential acquirer is Microsoft certainly makes it more interesting, but I have to say the concept leaves me more than a bit incredulous.
From skeptic to user
I became familiar with Powerset’s only competitor, Hakia initially because they are a New York company. I became intrigued with Hakia because several months ago I tried their search engine, and it worked – really well. This was a surprising result for me since I have always been a skeptic regarding all things relating to artificial intelligence, speech recognition, natural language processing, and other such fuzzy technologies.
At least in the area of natural language processing Hakia that has changed my mind. In fact, it has become common for me to use the Hakia search engine when Google does not deliver sufficient results.
Hakia and Powerset are part of the same general area of natural language search. The idea with both services is that you can actually ask specific questions and get answers. But there are critical differences between Hakia and Powerset. And those differences bring me back to my incredulity at the idea that Microsoft is taking a serious look at Powerset.
Powerset indexes 750 times slower than Hakia!
I have no expertise in natural language processing or semantic search, or any type of full text search for that matter. But as far as I can tell, Hakia’s technology is *far* superior to that of Powerset’s. Why would I say that?
Well first, as I have already said, it works. It is a real live search engine. I use it. I can’t say the same for Powerset. Powerset has yet to show anything but a search engine for Wikipedia. A big part of the reason Powerset doesn’t seem able to offer a real search engine is the fact that according to their own reports, it takes them about 25 seconds to index a page, based on an average of 25 sentences per page. According to Hakia it takes them 1/30th of a second to index a page. Essentially this means that Powerset cannot scale. It is seven hundred fifty times slower than Hakia!
Now you might assume that Powerset is slower because it’s applying some serious, and superior indexing mojo, and therefore what it is doing is much more valuable than what Hakia is doing. But alas that is also not true.
Hakia really knows how to read
Hakia is doing something called “ontological semantics”. What this means is that over the last four years, Hakia has developed an “ontology” for human expression. In layman terms, what this means is that what Hakia does when it indexes a page is to look at each sentence and figure out what the *questions* are that each sentence answers. Any given sentence usually answers 3 or 4 questions. These questions are coded and go into what Hakia calls their Qdex, or question index.
In order to be able to figure out what the relevant questions are for a given sentence, Hakia’s indexer has to literally read the sentence. By “read” I mean it has to understand the actual meaning of the sentence semantically. This is a big deal.
Powerset uses statistics + syntax but can’t actually read
So, while Hakia is actually reading, Powerset, does not actually attempt to understand what sentences mean. It uses a system that parses the syntax of the sentence and guesses matches based on statistics. But this approach means that for questions that do not match previously encountered syntactical patterns, the system will not be able to find answers, even if there are in fact answers in the database.
Powerset benefits from the Silicon Valley echo chamber
Now, if, for a moment, you presume that it is true, or even *possibly* true that Hakia is the superior service and technology, or if you even assume that Hakia is just equivalent to Powerset, why would Powerset be so continuously celebrated while Hakia is overshadowed?
The only answer I can come up with is that the west coast is such an echo chamber that very little sound gets in or out. And so it must be shocking when a New York company develops a technology that seems to beat the pants off something that should be pure Silicon Valley. Just a thought.
In any case, it seems, for the record, worth noting that we have the clear leader in natural language processing and search technology right here. And, as an admitted New York partisan, after a while it does get a little annoying to hear such continued fawning over a west coast company that is very likely, at the end of the day, just another Silicon Valley also-ran.
This article was authored by Hank Williams who is a New York-based entrepreneur who recently launched a new blog: Why Does Everything Suck? exploring the tech marketplace from 10,000 feet.