Talk about search engines! Powerset just went public with its Wikipedia search tool. I first mentioned Powerset last August in my article Web 2.0 Won’t Eat Your Mouse published in the New Jersey Law Journal. I wrote: “Powerset Natural Language Search hopes to be Google’s competitor by utilizing paraphrasing, compound nouns and hypotheses about the relationships between words. “
Now it seems, according to Michael Arrington at TechCrunch, that Powerset may find itself as a valuable chess piece in the emerging search war between Google and Microsoft. A few weeks ago after Arrington demo’d the product, he said: “…I had something very similar to the ‘Aha!’ feeling that ran through me the first time I ever used Google. In short, it is an evolutionary, and possibly revolutionary, step forward in search.”
It is indeed. I signed up to participate in the beta testing and enjoyed playing with compound words, asking real research questions, getting Karma points for my participation, and sharing my feedback in Powerlabs, a wiki format with AI scientists and language lovers. One of my own favorite searches – Where is Penny Lane? – put an article at the top of the chart that highlighted the Beatles’ famous lyrics, Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes. Of course, if you really want to know, the street is in Liverpool, and it has a history all its own. But I loved the metaphorical context the best. Just imagine if lawyers could use a tool like this to drill down in their research by asking very specific questions instead of using keywords.
The semantic web will never quite give us a search engine like the mind of God, but we are getting closer. Check out the Powerset blog to follow the development of a marvelous tool.