Powerset Follows Hype With Debut

Site presents Wikipedia with Factz

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After a lot of blog buzz, Powerset finally launched its search engine with the initial aim at pulling information out of Wikipedia more effectively.

Ask a question, and Powerset should have an answer, via the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, as well as an open, community created database called Freebase. The search site delves into the entries to pull out what it calls Factz about a query.

These Factz come back as a simple sentence, derived from what Powerset finds with its query; they appear as subject, relation, and object, according to the Powerset FAQ. “Factz do not always represent truth, but rather propositions that are asserted in the text of Wikipedia,” it said.

As Powerset isn’t searching beyond Wikipedia and Freebase yet, it’s too soon to consider whether or not their approach presents a challenge to the typical contextual search engine market dominated by Google.

At launch, Powerset impressed Danny Sullivan with the way the site “adds some nice value to Wikipedia.” Powerset’s ability to determine relationships across pages in Wikipedia helps it pull out some otherwise obscure points for further refinement of a query.

Powerset faces the problem of pulling in an audience and building a userbase, as all new applications do. Sullivan noted the heavy influence search engines have on driving traffic to Wikipedia, something that Powerset probably won’t receive in the same volume.

The real evolution for Powerset will come if and when it scales its index to handle web search. That’s no easy task, especially considering the billions of pages indexed already by the Googles and Yahoos of the world.

Scale doesn’t come cheap, which to us reinforced the idea we’ve always had about Powerset. We won’t be surprised if they sell out long before the site ever develops beyond what it is today.

Powerset Follows Hype With Debut
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