Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Powerset is a better way to search and discover information on the Internets and in Wikipedia articles. Named after a geeky math term, the San Francisco company was founded in 2005 and launched this month. The guys explain what it's all about:
"In the search box, you can express yourself in keywords, phrases, or simple questions. On the search results page, Powerset gives more accurate results, often answering questions directly, and aggregates information from across multiple articles. Finally, Powerset’s technology follows you into enhanced Wikipedia articles, giving you a better way to quickly digest and navigate content."
In sum, they are making strides at natural language search. Kind of like what Ask Jeeves failed to do. But more important than that, they built an understanding search engine. It "gets" what it's searching for. It acts less like a robot and more like person, and it makes a collage of information from various sources, tailored to answer your question.

Example: I tested it out by typing in: "how many americans are uninsured," and the top results were all about health care, even though I made no mention of medicine in my query. Answer: around 46 million. Ace.

When I tried to ask questions in a non-natural way I got wonky results, haha. So there you go.
Overall grade: A for awesome. Good engine, decent design. Plus, they have mustaches, and who doesn't like people with 'staches?
In Other News:

The Grey Lady explains the genius of XKCD. "Mr. Munroe believes that analyzing a joke is like dissecting a frog — it can be done, but the frog dies."

(From msittig's Metafilter comment)

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