Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Yet Another Knowledgebase Knowledgebase?

Well, those who know yet another hacker jargon or have used yacc, will probably guess where I am going with this! Microsoft recently announced that Bing will have its own reference page - Microsoft, with the help of Powerset team behind Bing, is basically positioning Bing reference as nothing short of key source on the web for all reference needs. I am still struggling to understand the purpose/value behind it as if you try to use it then you can see that most of the articles are from wikipedia or freebase. So, basically, it seems that it is not really a knowledgebase. In that case, it can be more of a branding strategy.

The world of web knowledgebases has become more interesting lately. The vision was really set by cyc - started as an artificial intelligence project back in 1984 - which attempted to assemble a comprehensive knowledge base with the goal of enabling AI applications to perform human-like reasoning.   But it ended up being criticized by one of the most controversial endeavors of artifical intelligence history. Wikipedia successfully completed the vision by keeping it simple and used the power of collaboration. Freebase, the effort from metaweb technologies, which is combination of semanticlly enriched wikipedia articles and many other sources like musicbrainz etc.. is already sixty percent more than English wikipedia articles. Despite its size, freebase is still criticized that there are not enough strong use cases to leverage the rich semantic knoweldgebase. Also, I suspect that despite its large size, number of visitors to freebase will be significanlty lower than wikipedia.

Things got more interesting after the release of dbpedia, which is a comunity effort to convert wikipedia into semantic web representation. Now, many folks are saying that dbpedia and freebase should combine their efforts. So after all of this, how can Google, "the database of intentions" as described by John Battele in his famous book - "The Search: Business and Culture in the Age of Google", be far behind! Their knowledge base effort, called Knol - a unit of knoweldge, though still in Beta, is still a mystery to many. It is often compared with wikipedia and some suspect that Knol results will rank higher in search results. I haven't see that though. Many people like Knol as as you are not credited with anything when you contribute something to wikipedia. Whereas, Knol is an open knowledge bank, where you can maintain an account and write what you want. You can edit yourself or allow somebody else to edit the pages there. What's more, you can earn money there by the google adsense program. Money talks!

I haven't even started to talk about WolframAlpha which adds new dimension of knowledgbase computing to the world of knowledgebases. I will save it for another blog.

Only time will tell which knowledgebase(s) will survive.

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