Trying Semantic Search Yourself

    October 30, 2007

Most of you know that my job focuses on IBM’s OmniFind enterprise search and text analytics products. And I’ve written before about semantic search—I’ve even written about what semantic search isn’t. I keep talking about it because semantic search is probably the easiest to understand application of text analytics. But maybe you need to stop hearing about it and actually see it for yourself.

If you’ve never seen semantic search in action, check out a free facility to search your e-mail—OmniFind Personal E-Mail Search. Maybe you already use a desktop search product, but using this one will give you a clue as to how semantic search is better.

Try to find the PowerPoint file that Rob sent you with your desktop search engine. Then type "PPT from Rob" into our e-mail search and see the difference.

Can’t find a phone number that you know someone e-mailed to you? Try " Pat phone" and find all the phone numbers for people named "Pat."

No matter how good your desktop search engine is, it finds only keywords. So it will find that PowerPoint file only if the e-mail has the words "PPT from Rob" and it will find the phone number only if the e-mail literally says "Pat phone" in it. But usually they don’t. Usually they don’t have the words "PPT" or "phone" in them. They just have the PPT attached. And they say "Call Pat at 332-456-5624."

I could talk about this until the cows come home. (I’m not sure when that is, but trust me that it’s a long time from now.) It’s better that you try it yourself. Go ahead. It’s free. Download it and try it out—and let me know what you think.