IBM announced a new technology today called “Watson” that they say can compete with human abilities in the game of Jeopardy. Although we have not yet seen examples of Watson in action, if true IBM may have a leg up in the powerful “semantic web” wars which will usher in the next generation of search tools – programs that do a much better job of understanding the meaning wrapped up in search queries.
Watson would be the first major breakthrough in semantic search in some time. Powerset, a company many felt held great promise in this field, debuted after much fanfare with a marginally useful product that only managed to work well within the somewhat narrow confines of Wikipedia content. Microsoft aquired Powerset over a year ago and to my knowledge no major improvements have been made since.
IBM’s “Web Fountain” may have something to do with their Watson effort – Web Fountain is arguably the best search in the world, though speed and scaling issues have made it non-competitive with Google.
Photo Credit: Technology Report, CES 2009.
Like it or not, Twitter’s spectacular and explosive growth is unprecedented and in my opinion may herald something of a new era in broad based social media participation. Unlike Myspace and Facebook, Twitter appears to be popular pretty much across the entire US demographic landscape and is making significant inroads into foreign markets. Perhaps most significantly Twitter is doing this pretty much by word of mouth and huge free exposure on network news and celebrity TV. Twitter is growing rapidly without spending more than a trivial amount (if any) on marketing.
TechCrunch is citing Compete.com statistics showing 19 million vistors to Twitter last mont, up some 95% … per month. At that growth rate the service could surpass *all other applications* within a year. The recent increase was fueled by a celebrity onslaught of Oprah’s Twitter debut and the hugely popular Ashton Kutcher vs CNN Twitter duel and this is unlikely to repeat every month, but even at last year’s growth rate of very roughly 1000% Twitter will be very huge very soon. Facebook and Google continue to remain very solidly in control of much of the online landscape with hundreds of millions using those services but it’s now very clear that Twitter is in the social media game in a big way.
With a simple and intuitive interface, a 140 character limit on comment size, ten second sign up, celebrities, and superficial content, it’s easy to see why this service is popular among mainstream users as well as businesses who want to be able to push out content to “followers” quickly and easily.
TechCrunch has a good report here
Today President Obama has announced the appointment of Jeffrey Zients as Chief Performance Officer and Aneesh Chopra as Chief Technology Officer:
Video is here
Jeffrey D. Zients – Chief Performance Officer
Zients has twenty years of business experience as a CEO, management consultant and entrepreneur with a deep understanding of business strategy, process reengineering and financial management. He served as CEO and Chairman of the Advisory Board Company and Chairman of the Corporate Executive Board. These firms are leading providers of performance benchmarks and best practices across a wide range of industries. Currently, he is the Founder and Managing Partner of Portfolio Logic, an investment firm focused primarily on business and healthcare service companies.
Aneesh Paul Chopra – Chief Technology Officer
Chopra serves as Virginia’s Secretary of Technology. He leads the Commonwealth’s strategy to effectively leverage technology in government reform, to promote Virginia’s innovation agenda, and to foster technology-related economic development. Previously, he worked as Managing Director with the Advisory Board Company, leading the firm’s Financial Leadership Council and the Working Council for Health Plan Executives.
Congratulations to Mike Arrington and the TechCrunch Team for what looks like an amazing new computing device – the CrunchPad. TechCrunch and CrunchGear are reporting on the prototypes with pictures but also noting that they’ll need some partners to produce and market the devices, which really look to me like a combination of an iPhone and a netbook. The object is mostly web surfing here, though I’d think this will compete with a Kindle. For example I’d rather have this than a Kindle since most of my reading is online and I’d want to interact with more than just the “Kindle approved” websites and blogs.
Rupert Murdoch should take notice – this device (assuming screen quality is high) along with some media and book deals he could aquire in a few calls would allow him to jump into the Kindle market overnight.