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Microsoft Research’s AskMSR program, which Brill and his colleagues have been testing on Microsoft’s internal network for more than a year. At its core is a simple search box where users can enter questions such as “Who killed Abraham Lincoln?” and, instead of getting back a list of sites that may have the information they seek, receive a plain answer: “John Wilkes Booth.”
One thing Silverstein does like to talk about is his long-range goal for search technology, which he believes is still in its infancy. “It’s clear that the answer [to search] is not a ranked list of Web sites,” he says. No one expects to approach a librarian, ask a question about the Panama Canal, and get 50 book titles in response, he argues.
I was pushing for that q&a technology at Infoseek about 5 yrs ago and that was my promotional question. I know who at Infoseek told who at Microsoft, too. (Maybe I can even see the link on orkut). Oh what a small world.
Microsoft: Why don't you do some real innovation, today? You could have at least changed it do a different question. Doh!
Anyhow, if you want to see this technology live you can go to my website and type a question in there and see your answer in the light blue box entitled "Giga Bits". It works quite well, but there's always room for improvement.
The point I'm trying to make is that companies can brag all they want about what technology they built, how many phd's they have on staff, or how many systems they have running, but do they really have a grasp on what people really want? Or do they want to display what they, the company, wants people to find useful.
The first company that gets in touch with what people really want is the one who will be the champ.
Teoma may still have some flaws but at least they make an effort to give great refinement choices. Almost every other search engine gives users related search suggestions, except Google who has been serving them randomly to users but only recently.