Tuesday, February 9, 2010

New Patent from IBM for Semantic Web!

IBM has always been a leader in patent filing. Do you know that just in 2008, it filed more than 4000 patents which is three times more than its nearest rival HP. Recently, IBM filed a patent to improve traditional tag clouds by using semantic technology. Basically, the idea is that since tags are single words and users can't have description and context with a tag, it is very limiting and value of tag diminishes as the tag space grows. For e.g. picture tagged as "dog" will not show up when the user searches for content associated with tag "puppy." You can think of hundreds of similar examples. So, with the help of ontologies and associations, you can have more meaningful, descriptive and understandable tags. For example, once this tag cloud is represented in an ontology form then a "German Shepherd" can be classified as a type of dog with attributes like eye color, fur color etc. and relationships like "owned by". You can also specify that Puppy is a yound dog in this context.

The method, explained in the attached filing,  comprises of receiving a tag cloud which includes tags that hyperlink to web content. It will seperate the tag into different linguistics categories, assigning a weight to each tag, and grouping the tags into clusters, whereas tags in a cluster are associated with a context. The server will have components like linguistic analyzer, semantic domain analyzer, taxonomy builder, attribute analyzer, relationship analyzer and ontology generator. Like any onology generator, the process will be iterative in nature. As a result of this, it will eventually lead to more accurate searches for the content you are looking for.

All of it makes sense to me but I wonder if there are risks associated with companies in future, who might try to accomplish similar goals using different flavors of technology, without infringing on this patent. I will let patent lawyers figure this out in future.

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