Archive for December, 2009

Online Information 2009, day 3

Back at Online 2009 on Thursday, to take part in the closing panel: “Cloud Computing, Open Source and Semantics: Content and Search Predictions”, moderated by Stephen Arnold. We only touched on four of the ten controversial themes Stephen had prepared: we talked a lot about how ‘Google pressure’ will affect the market, how XML isn’t necessarily the universal panacea for representing data, on the growth of rich media and the challenges it presents and finally on security. Some great questions from the floor as well, thanks to all who came and the organisers and Stephen for inviting us. I wish we’d had more time!

I didn’t agree with Stephen’s main point that Google will crush us all – I think the battles between Google and Microsoft (and Google and everyone else) are a distraction. While they’re fighting it out the rest of us can get on with developing cutting-edge search technologies. Open source search technology gives us tremendous flexibility, allows us to develop solutions very fast, allows the customer to take ownership of the system that’s being developed and now has comparable performance, scalability and commercial support to the traditional closed source world.

The real question is how this will affect the profitability of existing companies in the search space. I wonder who won’t be around at next year’s Online Information show…

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Posted in Business, News

December 4th, 2009

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Flax Newsletters

I’ve created a page with links to our Flax Newsletters – let us know if you would like to be added to the mailing list (or indeed, if you’d like to be removed from it).


Posted in News

December 2nd, 2009

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Online Information 2009, day 1

I visited the Online Information exhibition yesterday at Olympia. My first impression was that the exhibition area was very quiet – and a few of the exhibitors agreed with me. The current financial situation would seem the obvious cause. At previous shows exhibitors have given away all kinds of freebies, from bags, to mini mice, to branded juggling balls….but this year you’d be lucky if you came away with a couple of free pens and a boiled sweet.

I dropped in on the associated conference later, and caught a presentation titled “The Real Time Web: Discovery vs. Search”. Antonio Gulli of Microsoft told us about their new European offices, including one in Soho, that were concentrating on bringing new features to Bing – but the results look very familiar, is Bing doomed to play catch-up? The only ‘real time’ feature he discussed was indexing Twitter, although apparently they’ll soon be indexing Facebook as well. Surely real time encompasses more than these two platforms?

Stephen Arnold gave us his thoughts on what we should mean by ‘real time’, sensibly talking about how the financial services world has been using real time systems for many years. He also injected some notes of caution about how difficult it is to trust information spread amongst peers on social networking sites – here’s a recent case, read further down the page for a great quote from Graham Cluley.

Someone from Endeca (I didn’t catch the name, he was replacing the published speaker) showed us lots of slides of various applications of search, but his theme seemed more about how search can replace traditional databases than about ‘real time’, something I’ve blogged about recently.

We finished with Conrad Wolfram, demonstrating Wolfram Alpha, which isn’t really a search engine but rather a computation engine – it tries to give you a set of answers, rather than a list of possible resources where the answer might be found. Not a lot of ‘real time’ here either.

I’m back on Thursday as part of the closing keynote panel.

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Posted in Uncategorized, events

December 2nd, 2009

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