Five Reasons I’m Not Going Gaga Over Powerset

There’s a buzz in the blogosphere over the launch of Powerset, a natural language processing search engine that uses Wikipedia for its index. Either I’ve not had enough coffee this morning or I’m the only one that’s asking these pointed questions.

  1. Didn’t try natural language search? Didn’t it fail?
  2. Didn’t Google spend the last 10 years conditioning search engine users to use a handful of keywords–not natural language?
  3. Isn’t Wikipedia made up of just 2.3 million pages, while Google’s index is likely 40+ billion? Even I could build a search engine that scales to 2.5 million edited and organized web pages.
  4. If Powerset is licensing its natural language technology from Xerox PARC and its index from Wikipedia, where’s the value? What’s to stop Google or Microsoft from licensing the same technology?
  5. Powerset’s co-founder predicts "2008 is the year that semantic and linguistic technologies cross over into widespread consumer use." So, in the next 7 months, you’ll do what no one has done in the past ten years?

Don’t get me wrong, you have to give Powerset kudos for finding a niche in the search engine industry, but I’ve seen this type of technology–yes, as good as Powerset–many times in the past five years and none of it has ever scaled or entered "widespread consumer use."

Have you tested out Powerset? Did it handle all of your natural language queries?


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