Unleashing the power of wikipedia

Powerset is a powerful search engine for Wikipedia. Once used I would argue that you will never want to go back to the in-site search on the Wikipedia site again.

This is how Powerset describes itself and what it does:

‘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.

Powerset’s first product is a search and discovery experience for Wikipedia, launched in May 2008. Powerset’s technology improves the entire search process. 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.’

Great features

Especially useful is the ‘article outline’ that appears when you are within the article and floats down the page as you scroll. Within this you can click links and jump straight to the section you select.

The results are excellent, reacting to your search keywords or question showing you the title together with an extract including highlights of the words that match your search. If there are lots of results you can further drill into the results around particular words, with these results rendering within the same page so there is no need to wait for the page to reload with new results.

As a regular user of Wikipedia for research Powerset has now been added to my Flock search bar.

I have discovered that Powerset has been purchased by microsoft so it will be interesting to see how this technology is incorporated into Live Search.

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Google asks are you in the Knol

Google have launched Knol, trumpted as a potential threat to Wikipedia, though for me more another source of information (as part of an information mix) and opportunity for individuals and organisations to demonstrate and share their knowledge and specialities.

For companies, organisations and individuals, Knol offers a huge opportunity. A chance for them to show that they really have expertise in their subject matter. Knol refers to a “unit of knowledge” and people with a vast array of skills and knowledge can demonstrate that they really know what they are talking about through Knoll.

To deal with Knol many organisations policy on contributing to social media, which are often restrictive, needs revising. Where there are fear biased policies prohibiting participation in social media – companies needs to change to a more positive attitude of encouragement, guidance and training. Only then will an organisations people be free to really show off what a talented group of people are.

Many suspect that Knol will be favoured by Google, given it has created it, in search listings. Even if this was not the case the fact is that with the Google brand behind it Knol has all the possibilites of becoming as big if not bigger than Wikipedia and therefore the potential of Knol being somewhere else that you just cannot afford not to be is high.