Instead of being a web search engine, spiders and all, iReader is a tool to create synopses of content based on browsing, not searching, and on mousing, not clicking. These distinctions are important, in large part for legal reasons intended to keep the Googlers at bay. Searching pretty much requires scraping the Internet for content that is then indexed, while iReader’s new browsing metaphor doesn’t kick into action until the user mouses over a URL (no clicking required, hence no stepping on the toes of Google or any Google competitors). Only then does a Syntactica server take a quick look at the URL, process it through the same linguistic engine used in ePrecis, then spit out a short synopsis of the content. The fact that this can take place in real time with a lot of people online at any one time is pretty darned impressive.
Doing a search using this system is simply a matter of entering a natural-language query, which is parsed and indexed in exactly the same manner, yielding another vector. This search vector is plotted in the multidimensional space and the search results are those vectors (those articles) that are nearest in space to the query vector. The closer to the query vector an article vector lies, the more likely that article is to answer the question posed in the query….The great problem with obtaining meaning from text is understanding the context in which that text appears, and this is where Syntactica’s lexicon shines. This lexicon is a compilation of a meticulous word-by-word analysis of Webster’s 3rd New International Dictionary, unabridged. This compilation considers the many different meanings and contexts of each individual word in the lexicon, and assigns a set of values to each word, which is a heck of a lot of work and explains why most competing products (there turn out to be a bunch) don’t have it.
Read I, Cringely’s Just the Facts Ma’am. Previously from WNM: The Future for “Search” – What we mean when we say human, vertical and Defining and building a semantic web