George Chitouras of Inxight Software gave a talk to the Emerging Technology SIG of the SDForum on "Search Alone is Not Enough". I had seen it before, but it is always fun to see the combination of natural language analysis, search and user interface that Inxight has pulled together. This time he also showed us the Time Wall which is another neat visualization tool. Someone in the audience was so bowled over by the display of search features that he asked whether Inxight would mean the end of Google. Apparently he was going to discuss Google with his broker the following morning.
Inxight does not compete with Google, they sell search software products to corporate and government users. George made the good point that search for them is different than search on the internet. Most importantly there is much less cross reference between documents, so it is difficult to establish reasonable page rankings. Instead, Inxight proposes semantic analysis of documents and placing them in a user defined taxonomy which is easy to access through their StarTree. The TimeWall allows easy graphical search of documents arranged by time. Other semantic information extracted from the documents can be displayed along with the search results to help with further refinements of the search.
I want a version of their system on my PC to help me manage email and other documents. Unfortunately, Inxight is not going in that direction, however there are other projects that while they may not be so capable, are more affordable.
As predicted by an audience member there were heated discussion after the talk on various topics raised. I partook in a discussion on whether a taxonomy had to be a directed tree or whether it should be a graph. Although I argued both sides at the time, I think on reflection that a taxonomy is easier to use and less confusing when it is a tree., and that this is worth more than the generality of a graph taxonomy.