How to swim around in a big sea of content

  1 m, 37 s
You know you've hit the right spot when Microsoft starts telling your story. I just watched an interesting TED webcast by Gary Flake of Microsoft explaining Microsoft's Pivot application that the labs group has developed: http://blogs.msdn.com/searchblog/archive/2010/03/05/microsoft-pivot-future-of-browsing-searching.aspx The basic premise is that we shouldn't fear the explosion of information that's occurring, we should embrace it as an opportunity to look at the big picture. The key to this demonstration is that by looking at the aggregate of information and what that content has in common we can spot patterns and trends that would otherwise be invisible. The only thing missing in the presentation is the recognition that figuring out the right ways to sort this sea of information is the tricky piece; how do I know that I'll see interesting things if I sort by "Tour de France" after I see a cover story on Lance Armstrong? They may have ignored it because they haven't got that piece figured out yet, but the truth is that Text Analytics is a perfect tool for exactly that purpose. The best way to swim around in a big sea of content is to give the users a high level idea of what's in the content and then adjust the sort columns dynamically based on the content you're looking at. For example if I search for "car recalls" I should be presented with the best ways to sift into the data from all of the recall stories, so I'd expect sort options like: "Toyota", "acceleration" or "Congress". Everyone realizes that content volumes aren't going down, so it stands to reason that this sort of application will have to become mainstream because simple search just won't narrow down the choices enough. It's great to see Microsoft pitching this story, and hopefully the Pivot application will become a bit more generic over time because it's a really nice looking application with a lot of potential.
Categories: Analysis, Text Analytics