Beyond Enterprise Search…

Beyond Enterprise Search… by adamfowleruk.

From the post:

Searching through all your content is fine – until you get a mountain of it with similar content, differentiated only by context. Then you’ll need to understand the meaning within the content. In this post I discuss how to do this using semantic techniques…

Organisations today have realised that for certain applications it is useful to have a consolidated search approach over several catalogues. This is most often the case when customers can interact with several parts of the company – sales, billing, service, delivery, fraud checks.

This approach is commonly called Enterprise Search, or Search and Discovery, which is where your content across several repositories is indexed in a separate search engine. Typically this indexing occurs some time after the content is added. In addition, it is not possible for a search engine to understand the fully capabilities of every content system. This means complex mappings are needed between content, meta data and security. In some cases, this may be retrofitted with custom code as the systems do not support a common vocabulary around these aspects of information management.

Content Search

We are all used to content search, so much so that for today’s teenagers a search bar with a common (‘Google like’) grammar is expected. This simple yet powerful interface allows us to search for content (typically web pages and documents) that contain all the words or phrases that we need. Often this is broadened by the use of a thesaurus and word stemming (plays and played stems to the verb play), and combined with some form of weighting based on relative frequency within each unit of content.

Other techniques are also applied. Metadata is extracted or implied – author, date created, modified, security classification, Dublin Core descriptive data. Classification tools can be used (either at the content store or search indexing stages) to perform entity extraction (Cheese is a food stuff) and enrichment (Sheffield is a place with these geospatial co-ordinates). This provides a greater level of description of the term being searched for over and above simple word terms.

Using these techniques, additional search functionality can be provided. Search for all shops visible on a map using a bounding box, radius or polygon geospatial search. Return only documents where these words are within 6 words of each other. Perhaps weight some terms as more important than others, or optional.

These techniques are provided by many of the Enterprise class search engines out there today. Even Open Source tools like Lucene and Solr are catching up with this. They have provided access to information where before we had to rely on Information and Library Services staff to correctly classify incoming documents manually, as they did back in the paper bound days of yore.

Content search only gets you so far though.

I was amening with the best of them until Adam reached the part about MarkLogic 7 going to add Semantic Web capabilities. 😉

I didn’t see any mention of linked data replicating the semantic diversity that currently exists in data stores.

Making data more accessible isn’t going to make it less diverse.

Although making data more accessible may drive the development of ways to manage semantic diversity.

So perhaps there is a useful side to linked data after all.

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