I am currently at The Rich Web Experience 2007 conference. It is interesting to compare it to JavaOne conferences I have been to in the past. To start, RWE is much smaller. It is about 400 people as compared to 15 thousands at JavaOne. This obviously makes scheduling logistics and eating arrangements simpler, but there is also a very different feel in the air. It feels that it is much harder to walk around without bumping into speakers and/or other moderately famous web people.
This was the fastest beta invite confirmation ever. Unfortunately, Digger’s Terms of Service do not allow any sort of disclosure about features or results from it. This is very different from Powerset which has been going out of its way to get beta subscribers (even unconfirmed ones) to know what they are doing. Digger does not even seem to have a blog, which contradicts the rules for a web2.0 company.
Powerset hasn’t even started competing with Google yet and already it has its own competitor. [Powerset hasn’t even started competing with Google yet and already it has its own competitor. ]1 - which is currently in private beta - does sense disambiguation of the search terms like everybody else. Unlike everybody else, however, they expose the underlying WordNet definitions to the searcher and allow them to pick, rate and even discuss the senses a la Digg or maybe Search Wikia concept.
Two books, two views - no agreement, but certainly a lot of sparks. Is the Internet full of junk and by killing off the conventional media we are loosing all our good information sources? That is a point of view of Andrew Keen, author of the book Cult of the Amateur. On the other hand Weinberger, with his own book Everything is Miscellaneous, agrees that there is a lot of bad stuff on the Internet, but argues that there is a lot of good stuff too.
Dan Farber has written a good article on Powerset. It mostly talks about their grandiose marketing plans and how NLP (Natural Language Processing) will change the world, however it also has a reasonable explanation of what they are doing with fairly transparent references to (expanded) WordNet, named entity recognition, event extraction and semantic web technologies. It is also interesting that the article tries to give impression that Google is not using any of these techniques, while the quotes are hinting at more similarities than differences.