Archive for October, 2005

History and Future of Talk Digger

Talk Digger is now 3 months old and many things changed since I had the idea to create the service and today.

I developed Talk Digger because I wanted to interrogate many search engines at once to know who was linking back to my blog. I wanted to create that application to save time and being able to quickly know who was talking about my writings and being able to contact them as soon as possible.

Then I choose to put the service publicly available to anyone, like me, that could benefit by using it. The answer has been instant: thousands of people used it less then a week after it have been publicly available. Some people even talked about a buzz.

This inflow of new users, with their comments, suggestions and questions, helped me to find new ways to use and implement Talk Digger. Then the concept of Talk Digger as a tool that help people to search for a conversation that is evolving around a specific URL is born. New ways to use Talk Digger have been developed such the bookmarklet, the creation of RSS web feeds populated with Talk Digger search results, and finally the creation of a link that a blogger or a webmaster can put on his web page to redirect their users to Talk Digger with a specific URL they predefined. Some usability features have also been developed during that time.

All these things have been developed, implemented and debugged during the first online month of Talk Digger. However, what happened during the last two months? Some people probably noticed that nothing really changed since two months, and they are right: nothing really changed; I only fixed bugs.

So, what is happening? Is Talk Digger service development stopped? On ice? Or even dead?

Definitely not!

Right, the development of Talk Digger in the last two months have been marginal, however it growth exponentially. In the last two months a worked with a client to implement Talk Digger in one of their product that permit them to use all the power of Talk Digger into their software. I will talk about it further when the new version of that software will be available, in the next week or two. This contract took most of my time in the last two months.

Then, why the development of Talk Digger growth exponentially? Because since the beginning of Talk Digger I am thinking about how I could develop the basic idea behind Talk Digger: “a social tool that helps people to find and follow conversations that evolve around a specific URL” even further. Since then, many ideas poped-up in my mind, most of them have been investigated, and some of them are on the way to be developed and implemented in Talk Digger.

The future of Talk Digger, for the next months, is simple: making the basic idea evolving in such a way that Talk Digger will be a social tool of choice to find, follow and analyze conversations evolving on the Internet.

People are talking about Web 2.0; personally I am talking about the Semantic Web. I am talking about a way to see and broadcast information in such a way that any application or software agent would easily be able to analyze and use that information. I already talk about the fact that I was orienting my professional career in that way. This said, the only way to go in that direction is by trying to implement the principles into a real application that anybody could use, knowing or not what the terms semantic web, blogs, information overload, or any other technical terms, mean.

Great, but what is the next step? The next step is to upgrade the basic framework of Talk Digger. The idea I have behind the next generation of Talk Digger only want one thing: information. So the next step is to gather even more information. There are the two next things I will develop in the next couple of weeks to make it happens:

  • Returning the last 10 results of each search engines instead of the last 3.
  • Supporting even more search engines.

I hope I answered to some questions you could have with that little article on the history and future of Talk Digger. A thing is sure: Talk Digger evolved in the last two months and many things are coming for the next months.

However, this service would not be what he is right now without you, Talk Digger users, and your feedbacks, questions and suggestions. This is probably the think I like the most: discussing of Talk Digger with people that use it, and to see how they use it or how they would like to use it. So do not hesitate to contact me if you would like to talk about it or to talk about anything else, it is always a pleasure to received, read and answer your emails!

Go big, vision, and actions: Change the World

If everything goes fine, everybody have between 60 to 100 years to spend on this planet. What people will do with that time will depends on their personality, their goals, their environment, etc. A fact persist, we will all do something with it (even if you sit on a chair during 100 years you are doing something: sitting).

From school to business startup, from the poorer to the richer neighborhood, everybody can have the same attitude: Go Big, Have a Vision, Take Actions, and try to Change your world or even The World.

Why thinking small when we can think big? I mean, this is just thinking, everybody can think, this is a question of mind-shift and focus. If we have the biggest vision and the biggest goal to drive our life, we will also try to do the actions to reach these goals. Our vision will drive our actions to reach our goals.

It is sure that it is not easy to live like that, but why don’t we try? Why everybody is not trying? It is sure that a really, really small percentage of people will reach their Big Goal, but I think that everybody that try the experience will earn something by doing it.

Chris Sacca had done a good speech at the Startup School, some weeks ago, at Harvard. He discussed of Google, how the company works, what is the life at Google, etc. However, a good part of his speech focused on how Larry Page and Sergey Brin started Google (from a couple of borrowed computers at Stanford to a multi-billionaire business).

They had a Vision: Go Big!
They had a Goal: Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
They Take Actions: spend many sleepless night to create the first prototype of Google in a dusty sleeping room.

They think Big:

[World’s best engineer]–[Biggest infrastructure]–[Big problems to solve]

These guys where probably saw as geeks, hackers, and psychologically unbalanced by their entourage (it’s a guest, I have no idea if it is true). They thought big, they tried to solve the biggest problem that afflict the information world they tried to do something, and they success.

Finally, why don’t we try that tactic too?

Why tagging is good for the future of the semantic web? A behavior learning perspective.

Tagging is everywhere. People tags blog posts, pictures, emails, or any other type of digital documents. I already wrote about tagging, and some doubts I had vis-à-vis the social tagging and where tagging principles could be useful to be implemented.

However, what I would like to talk about here is the behavior of tagging. Everywhere people have to tags things, any things. People have to think about how they will classify an entity. They will think about the best words that would semantically describe a given digital document. The best thing that tagging can bring is the “classification of documents described by semantically related keywords” behavior of the Internet users.

As I talked in that post, there are two ways to create an ontology for the semantic web: collaboratively or non-collaboratively. The easiest and less expensive way to create an ontology is definitely by collaboration. However, who say collaboration, usually say anybody that has a personal computer and an Internet access can collaborate to it. Without any knowledge and practice of describing semantically an entity, the ontologies would be near useless considering that anybody could describe anything by anything.

It is why the learned behavior of tagging is essential for the future development of collaborative ontologies development. If that skill is not globally learned (at least for the people that would describe something in an ontology) resulting ontologies would be worthless and even destructive for the semantic web.




This blog is a regularly updated collection of my thoughts, tips, tricks and ideas about my semantic Web researches and related software development.


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