How to Keep Up with the Semantic Space

Fact: Reshma Sohoni, chief executive of Seedcamp (the VC accelerator focusing on European tech startups) said in an interview this week that “In the past few months, we’ve seen a lot more developments around the semantic web,” and talked about the coming value of semantic web services.  

Analysis:  There’s never-ending buzz about the semantic space. Just this week John Conroy writing at the Content Matters blog had a long and interesting piece examining “three ingredients needed to enable and popularize the semantic Web,” with the aim of answering “if we really are on the cusp of a content revolution.”

Also, I admit it, I can’t stop playing with the semantic-space startups, whether it’s Sensebot or the newly launched Evri, or Powerset (just acquired by Microsoft, as I wrote about previously).

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Semantic Reality (Microsoft Acquires Powerset)

Fact: At last, the public announcement this afternoon of one of the most-rumored secrets in tech: Microsoft is acquiring Powerset, taking us one major step forward in semantic technologies. 

Analysis: There’ll be plenty of analysts looking at this, and I expect the acquisition will get a lot of buzz just as Powerset did originally when launched.  After all, Microsoft is buying a company which was called a “Google-Killer” by everyone from the New York Times to various esoteric search-technology blogs.  [Update: it’s already started on TechCrunch.]

If you haven’t used Powerset’s first announced product, semantic searching of Wikipedia, check it out on their site and you’ll begin to see why there’s been so much interest in their technical approach. I’ve known founder Barney Pell for a while now, and we’ve mused about the possibilities of adding Powerset’s strengths to Microsoft’s global scale.  The more I played with PowerLabs, before its full launch, the more I was convinced of its power.

When I was working at DIA, one of our dreams was a semantically enabled intelligence enterprise. IC analysts and advanced users within any other enterprise vertical are going to find some very interesting capabilities finally possible when Powerset technology is wedded to the FAST search software already being deployed at web scale. But that’s only the beginning.  Continue reading

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