maandag 8 september 2008

Opening Search to Semantic Upstarts

Technoly Review, September 8, 2008
Yahoo's new open-search platform is giving semantic search a helping hand.
Even if you have a great idea for a new search engine, it's far from easy to get it off the ground. For one thing, the best engineering talent resides at big-name companies. Even more significantly, according to some estimates, it costs hundreds of millions of dollars to buy and maintain the servers needed to index the Web in its entirety.

However, Yahoo recently released a resource that may offer hope to search innovators and entrepreneurs. Called Build Your Own Search Service (BOSS), it allows programmers to make use of Yahoo's index of the Web--billions of pages that are continually updated--thereby removing perhaps the biggest barrier to search innovation. By opening its index to thousands of independent programmers and entrepreneurs, Yahoo hopes that BOSS will kick-start projects that it lacks the time, money, and resources to invent itself. Prabhakar Raghavan, head of Yahoo Research and a consulting professor at Stanford University, says this might include better ways of searching videos or images, tools that use social networks to rank search results, or a semantic search engine that tries to understand the contents of Web pages, rather than just a collection of keywords and links.

"We're trying to break down the barriers to innovation," says Raghavan, although he admits that BOSS is far from an altruistic venture.

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