I attended the Enterprise Search Summit in New York last week, and there is no debating the fact that the economy is affecting attendance at conference events. I’ve been to ESS a couple of other times, and the decline in attendance this year was noticeable. Despite the decreased attendance, there were some interesting talks, and some noticeable trends. The push on “question answering systems” was the most noticable thing I saw at the conference. This included our lunch discussions and between session chats. I see their value in particular applications, but I don’t see it as the “panacea” that everyone was describing it to be. If you have content, or applications that are question based, then question answering systems are great, but they won’t help much with the age old “Tell me what I need to know?” kind of question. Of course I sat in on Seth Grimes talk on Sentiment Analysis, and I have to give kudos to him on two fronts. First, he did a nice job on explaining sentiment analysis in a clean and easy to understand way, and secondly, he got through 25+ slides in about 25 minutes. I would have bet my house that he wasn’t gonna pull that one off.