We are seeing more and more websites who do not come up with a brand new product, but rather a product that sits on top of someone else’s site. In most cases, these sites are simply an interface to another tool or directly enhance your experience. This is the case with Powerset’s new Semantics-based search tool for Wikipedia.
“Powerset’s goal is to change the way people interact with technology by enabling computers to understand our language. While this is a difficult challenge, we believe that now is the right time to begin the journey. Powerset is first applying its natural language processing to search, aiming to improve the way we find information by unlocking the meaning encoded in ordinary human language.”
The idea is to allow you to run a search based on a natural language phrase instead of having to figure out the best combination of keywords to use. As a proof of concept, they have decided to use only the information from Wikipedia because it is already using a fairly consistent structure and because this limits the amount of information to search through. Eventually, the plan would be to allow users to search through as much information as Google is able to offer and apply the same filters and tools as with Wikipedia.
Let’s take a look at what they are currently offering. When you run a search on powerset, you get all the results that could contain what you are looking for (keep in mind it has to be information that is available on Wikipedia for now) displayed in a relatively familiar manner. The top shows the best match with a summary and if you click on that article, you get the actual wikipedia article, but enhanced with Powerset’s tools. The most important addition here is the “Article Outline” box which appears to the right of the article. This box is always visible to the right and follows the scrolling window. Inside that box are two display options: Show Outline and Show Factz. The outline is simply the same one as the Wikipedia article, but it does make large articles a little bit easier to navigate. The Factz are a summary of all the important details found in the article and broken down following the outline. This is where Powerset’s algorithms work their magic. The Factz are a bunch of snippets which are “understood” from the main article and show some relevant information that you could be looking for.
This promotional video is certainly the best way to see and understand all the features that are built in Powerset. I hope they will be able to further develop their product to include a complete internet search and add their tools to the results.