Jennifer Zaino

Schema.org Takes Action

actionstatusThis week saw schema.org introduce vocabulary that enables websites to describe the actions they enable and how these actions can be invoked, in the hope that these additions will help unleash new categories of applications, according to a new post by Dan Brickley.

This represents an expansion of the vocabulary’s focus point from describing entities to taking action on these entities. The work has been in progress, Brickley explains here, for the last couple of years, building on the http://schema.org/Action types added last August by providing a way of describing the capability to perform actions in the future.

The three action status type now includes PotentialActionStatus for a description of an action that is supported, ActiveActionStatus for an in-progress action, and CompletedActionStatus, for an action that has already taken place.

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Declara Individualizes Large-Scale Learning

coggraphLearning at large-scale. That’s the work Declara is undertaking with its CognitiveGraph platform that leverages semantic search, social platforms and predictive analytics to build context-specific learning pathways for the individuals involved in mass learning efforts. Think, for example, of teachers in a country working to re-educate all its educators, or retail and manufacturing workers in parts of the world who need new skill sets because machines have taken on the work these people used to do.

Adults don’t have the luxury of just being focused on learning, so “we try to help them learn more effectively and quickly, using the CognitiveGraph as a way of knowing where to start from and how to get them to positive outcomes faster,” says co-founder and CEO Ramona Pierson. Its intelligent learning platform will determine what mentors and information exist within a closed private network or on the Web relative to supporting a user’s learning needs; what of all that will be the best fit for a particular user; and then match that learner to the best pathway to acquire the new skills. Among the technologies Declara is leveraging is Elasticsearch (which the Semantic Web Blog discussed most recently here) realtime search and analytics capabilities to turn data into insights.

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Tax Time And The IRS Is On Our Minds

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Have you checked out the IRS Tax Map this year? If not, what better way to spend April 15 (aside from actually filing those returns, of course).

The IRS Tax Map, as explained here, actually began as a project in 2002, as a prototype to address the business need for improved access to tax law technical information by the agency’s call center workers. These days, Tax Map is available to taxpayers to offer them topic-oriented access to the IRS’s diverse information products, as well. It aims at delivering semantic integration via the Topic Maps international standard (ISO/IEC 13250), grouping information about subjects, including those referred to by diverse names, in a single place.

It was created for the IRS by Infoloom in cooperation with Plexus Scientific and Coolheads Consulting. Infoloom explains on its web site that it lets customers control what is returned by search queries via a topic map approach that lets them extract from existing content information on the topics they need to represent, without having to build a taxonomy of terms, and add specific knowledge to that information as part of the extraction process.

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Semantic Markup Pays Off But For Whom?

schemapix1 Many eyes are turning to research being done by SEO optimization vendor Searchmetrics about the virtues of semantic markup. Exploring the enrichment of search results through microdata integration, it says it has analyzed “tens of thousands of representative keywords, and rankings for over half a million domains from our comprehensive database, for the effect of the use of schema.org markup in terms of dissemination and integration type.”

Its study is still underway but so far its initial findings include good news – that is, that semantic markup succeeds:

  • Larger domains are more likely to embrace structured data markup, and the most popular markups relate to movies, offers, and reviews.  That said, overall, domains aren’t flocking to integrate Schema HTML tags.

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Load-Control: Semantria Takes On The Social Media Surge Infrastructure Challenge

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Image courtesy: Flickr/Webtreats

Semantria is tackling some of the challenges that come with being a cloud-based social media services provider startup. The company offers a text and sentiment analysis service (which you can read about here) to clients and partners. That includes companies like Sprinklr, which manages the social customer experience for other brands with the help of Semantria’s API for analyzing social signals about those clients.

The good news is that with growing social data volumes, there’s a growing need for semantically-oriented services like Semantria’s that help businesses make sense of that information for themselves or their clients. The downside is that a huge surge in volume of social mentions around a company, its product, or anything else can hit such services hard in the pocketbook when it comes to acquiring the cloud infrastructure to handle the tidal wave.

“Everybody suffers from this kind of thing,” says Semantria founder and CEO Oleg Rogynskyy. “We experience it daily.”

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Machine Learning’s Future: Fortune 500 Buys In, Manufacturing Sees The Light

STServerMartin Hack, CEO and co-founder of machine learning company Skytree, has a prediction to make: “In the next three to five years we will see a machine learning system in every Fortune 500 company.” In fact, he says, it’s already happening, and not just among the high-tech companies in that ranking but also among the “bread and butter” enterprises.

“They know they need advanced analytics to get ahead in the game or stay competitive,” Hack says. For that, he says, they need machine learning algorithms for analyzing their Big Data sets, and they need to be able to deploy them quickly and easily — even if those who will be doing the deployments are coming from at best a background of basic analytics and business intelligence.

“There just aren’t enough data scientists to go around,” he says. It’s very tough to fill those roles in most companies, he says, “so like it or not, we have to make it much, much easier for people to digest and use this.”

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Microsoft Talks Up What It’s Calling The First Truly Virtual Personal Assistant

Microsoft cortanaAs The Semantic Web Blog discussed yesterday here, the Virtual Personal Assistant is getting more personal. Microsoft officially unveiled Cortana as part of the Windows Phone 8.1 smartphone software at its Build event yesterday, and the service effectively replaces the search function on Windows smartphones, both for the Internet and locally.

This statement served as the theme from corporate vice president and manager Joe Belfiore: “Cortana is the first truly personal digital assistant who learns about me and about the things that matter to me most and the people that matter to me most, that understands the Internet and is great at helping me get things done.”

The Bing-powered Cortana is launching in beta mode, and was still subject to a few hiccups during the presentation. For example, when Belfiore asked Cortana to give him the weather in Las Vegas, it reported the information in degrees, and was able to respond to his request to provide the same information in Celsius. But he couldn’t get her to make the calculations to Kelvin. But, he promised attendees, “Try it yourself because she is smart enough to tell you the answer in Kelvin.”

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Amazon Fires Up Fire TV Featuring Voice Search And Content Viewing Prediction Capabilities

retAmazon today unveiled its Fire TV streaming video device. During the announcement event in Manhattan, company vice president Peter Larsen called the $99 set top box “tiny, incredibly powerful and unbelievably simple.” For users, that power and simplicity are designed to be evident in features such as the device’s ability to project and preload the content users will want to see and to navigate via voice search.

A statement by Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos reads that, “Our exclusive new ASAP (Advanced Streaming and Prediction) feature predicts the shows you’ll want to watch and gets them ready to stream instantly.” Movies or tv shows are buffered for playback before users hit the play button, the company says; those choices are made by analyzing users’ watch lists and recommendations. As users’ viewing habits change, the caching prediction algorithm will adjust accordingly, and personalization capabilities should get better over time as buyers use the Fire TV device.

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Happy April Fools’ Day!

April-1Today we celebrate April Fool’s Day. And what better way to do it than to leverage semantic resources to find some interesting facts about the holiday and a few ideas for things to do today, too?

Just like these:

What to Watch:

The April Fools: a late 60’s romantic comedy starring Jack Lemmon and Catherine Deneuve

April Fool’s Day: called a “gory, darkly comic cult favorite” from the late ‘80s.

April Fools: The day belongs to the slasher flicks, this one centering on the accidental killing of a teen, its coverup, and subsequent murders of those responsible for the original incident.

What To Listen To:

Sounds of Silence: The Simon & Garfunkel release includes the song, April Come She Will. And after this winter, that’s something a lot of people will be very happy to hear.

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Cognitum Points To Use Cases For Semantic Knowledge Engineering

fl24Cognitum’s year got off to a good start, with an investment from the Giza Polish Ventures Fund, and it plans to apply some of that funding to building its sales and development teams, demonstrating the approaches to and benefits of semantic knowledge engineering, and focusing on big implementations for recognizable customers. The company’s products include Fluent Editor 2 for editing and manipulating complex ontologies via controlled natural language (CNL) tools, and its NLP-fronted Ontorion Distributed Knowledge Management System for managing large ontologies in a distributed fashion (both systems are discussed in more detail in our story here). “The idea here is to open up semantic technologies more widely,” says CEO Pawel Zarzycki.

To whom? Zarzycki says the company currently has pilot projects underway in the banking sector, which see opportunities to leverage ontologies and semantic management frameworks that provide a more natural way for sharing and reusing knowledge and expressing business rules for purposes such as lead generation and market intelligence. In the telco sector, another pilot project is underway to support asset management and impact assessment efforts, and in the legal arena, the Poland-based company is working with the Polish branch of international legal company Eversheds on applying semantics to legal self-assessment issues. Having a semantic knowledge base can make it possible to automate the tasks behind assessing a legal issue, he says, and so it opens the door to outsourcing this job directly to the entity pursuing the case, with the lawyer stepping in mostly at the review stage. That saves a lot of time and money.

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