Can’t it just be like Google?

I often get frustrated by those who think Google is the greatest search engine that ever parsed. Don’t get me wrong – I like Google, I use Google, I employ it as a verb. But if I hit the search button and get wonky results, I recognize that they are wonky and am not afraid to blame Google. (Full disclosure: I have a library science background which I’d like to think has made me into a pretty good searcher, so I will usually try a few different queries before I point the finger at the machine.)

On most of our consulting engagements, at least one person will say “I want our search to be more like Google.” I have a few problems with this kind of statement. Partly it’s that most folks aren’t terribly critical when it comes to evaluating the relevance of Google results. It’s what we know, it’s what we’re used to. We don’t mind that Wikipedia is almost always the first result on any query – many might find that a “feature”.  We’re generally happy to take whatever shows up in those top 10 results and roll with it regardless of what it is, mostly because we can’t know everything that is out there so we trust Google to filter it for us. We satisfice (yes, it’s Wikipedia, joke intended)

Take these same folks and plunk them in front of their enterprise search and ask whether the top ten results are usually “good enough”… Most will answer no. Why? Because we have a better idea of what information is out there and what would make for a good result. Continue reading

Collaboration, Groove and SharePoint – History Repeating Itself?

I just read that Groove is being renamed as SharePoint Workspace 2010.  For those of you who are not familiar with Groove or its history, I’ll take you back to the early 80’s. 

Ray Ozzie is the visionary behind Groove and currently the Chief Software Architect at Microsoft (a role he took over from Bill Gates).  At University of Illinois (as many know, home to the NCSA  which created Mozilla, the first web browser on which Internet Explorer is based) Ozzie worked early iterations of some of today’s knowledge management,  collaboration and social media applications (discussion forums, message boards, e – learning, e-mail, chat rooms, instant messaging, remote screen sharing, and multi-player games.

He also worked with some of the pioneers in personal computing and products like Visicalc, one of the first spreadsheet programs that ushered in the age of personal productivity.

Ozzie worked for a time at Lotus Development and went out to form a new venture called Iris Associates which developed a collaboration tool called Notes.  Lotus acquired rights to Notes with Iris remaining a separate entity but doing all of the research and development behind the product.

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ZigTag Finally Launches Semantic Bookmarking

So, I seem to have not been on the right RSS feed, because I totally missed the memo that ZigTag finally launched at the end of 2008.  I had signed up for the restricted Beta some time ago (there were 500 or so participants), and was awaiting the live version anxiously. ZigTag is a tagging/bookmarking tool that uses “defined” tags, whereby users choose from a controlled set of tags (through auto-complete) with semantic distinctions managed in a knowledge base.

For example, if you start typing in “Ital…”, it will start populating a drop-down of choices asking you if you mean, Ital (Rastafarian food), Italy (the country), Italian (Culture of Italy), etc.  If there are multiple versions of one word (synonyms), they use parenthetical qualifiers to define them. Hovering over a term also brings up definitions (brought in from Wikipedia).

ZigTag Screenshot

ZigTag Screenshot

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