News

Bill McDaniel, a Star in the Semantic Cosmos, Winks Out but Shines On

[EDITOR’S NOTE: This guest post comes to us from John Breslin. Thanks to John for allowing us to re-post this tribute, which originally appeared in his LinkedIn stream. This post was modified at 5:24 ET]

Photo of Bill McDaniel with StreamGlider logo.It is with deep regret that I learned this week of the passing of my good friend, colleague and StreamGlider co-founder, Bill McDaniel. Bill was, among many other things, a Semantic Web innovator and serial entrepreneur who co-founded a multitude of companies, shipped more than 70 products, and co-authored seven books and many more publications during his career.

I first met Bill McDaniel at the International Semantic Web Conference (ISWC), held in Galway in 2005. Bill was working as a senior research scientist at Adobe at that time. By chance, I happened to be seated across from Bill and another colleague of his from Adobe at the conference dinner, and I mentioned to them both that there were some job opportunities for researchers at DERI in NUI Galway that could be of interest. It turned out to be an opportune time for him to pursue a new challenge, as Bill joined DERI soon afterwards as a project executive in the eLearning Research Cluster.

Those who knew Bill through his Semantic Web work may be unaware of his long and varied career in information technology, with CEO, CTO and CRO roles in diverse areas such as electronic printing, wireless demand chain management, wireless retail loyalty, advanced 2D bar coding, AI-based military logistics, and of course semantically-powered mobile applications.

His career in IT stretches back nearly 40 years to 1975 when he worked as an operations programmer and manager with NCH Corp (at the time, saving the company $1M a year in order processing costs). He then joined Image Sciences in the 1980s as an R&D director, responsible for their $20M flagship product DocuMerge. From then into the 1990s he was CTO and co-owner of GenText, sold to Xenos for $12M in 1998.

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How the Semantic Web Will Change News

Old NewsPaul Sparrow of AJR.org recently wrote, “In his book ‘Weaving the Web,’ Tim Berners-Lee described the semantic web. ‘I have a dream for the Web [in which computers] become capable of analyzing all the data on the Web — the content, links, and transactions between people and computers. A ‘Semantic Web,’ which makes this possible, has yet to emerge, but when it does, the day-to-day mechanisms of trade, bureaucracy and our daily lives will be handled by machines talking to machines. The ‘intelligent agents’ people have touted for ages will finally materialize.’ The question is, will the provider of that customized information be a media company or a technology company? A new wave of change is sweeping the media landscape, and news organizations will need to make radical changes if they want to survive this tsunami of media transformation.” Read more

Upcoming Hackathon at Cornell Showcases Smart Search

cornellDebra Eichten of the Cornell Chronicle recently wrote, “At the Big Red//Hacks event Sept. 26-28 – billed as the first student-run, large-scale hackathon at Cornell University – participants will have access to a semantic intelligence application program interfaceAPI, the core technology for a new startup, Speare.  Speare founder and CEO Rahul Shah ’16 said his passion for understanding information, coupled with meeting students who shared an interest in entrepreneurship, resulted in the creation of Speare – a startup business that harnesses semantic intelligence to understand the meaning of textual information.” Read more

News Organizations Need Better Tagging and Linking

5272448889_b6644fd7a5_zFrederic Filloux of Quartz recently wrote, “Most media organizations are still stuck in version 1.0 of linking. When they produce content, they assign tags and links mostly to other internal content. This is done out of fear that readers would escape for good if doors were opened too wide. Assigning tags is not exact science: I recently spotted a story about the new pregnancy in the British royal family; it was tagged ‘demography,’ as if it was some piece about Germany’s weak fertility rate.” Read more

A Look Inside The New York Times’ TimesMachine

nytAdrienne Lafrance of The Atlantic reports, “One of the tasks the human brain best performs is identifying patterns. We’re so hardwired this way, researchers have found, that we sometimes invent repetitions and groupings that aren’t there as a way to feel in control. Pattern recognition is, of course, a skill computers have, too. And machines can group data at scales and with speeds unlike anything a human brain might attempt. It’s what makes computers so powerful and so useful. And seeing the structural framework for patterns across vast systems of categorization can be enormously revealing, too.” Read more

Leiki and Outbrain Partner to Bring Global Consumers More Engaging Online Content

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HELSINKI, Finland, July 17, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Leiki, Ltd, a leading provider of content discovery solutions for publishers and advertisers announce today that it has agreed with Outbrain, Inc, to enhance the relevancy of their related and sponsored content delivery. As a result of this cooperation, consumers will see content recommendations that are more directly relevant to the articles they are reading and publishers and sponsors will enjoy higher consumer engagement.

 

Outbrain will use the Leiki Focus semantic engine to analyze web pages using the Leiki-proprietary 130,000 contextually definitive topics. The resulting weighted profile consists of the 50-200 most relevant topics and provides a highly accurate and detailed “context fingerprint”. Outbrain will use this as part of their core delivery system to find matching articles from within the publisher’s domain as well as among the Outbrain sponsored content network. Read more

Newsle Joins LinkedIn

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Jonah Varon and Axel Hansen’s semantic news app Newsle has become part of LinkedIn, and so have Varon and Hansen (plus their engineering team.) According to Newsle, “We founded Newsle with a simple goal: to deliver important news about the people who matter to you. Three years and 2 million users later, we’re happy to say that we’re well on the way toward realizing that goal. LinkedIn is equally passionate about offering insights that can help professionals better do their jobs and will help us accelerate our efforts by making Newsle available to its members. We’re delighted that our team of engineers — Liz, Farid, Shane, and Nick — will be making the move with us to LinkedIn. We’ll keep Newsle online as a standalone service as we combine all the functionality  with LinkedIn’s core services.” Read more

Microsoft Assists Internet of Things

AllSeen Alliance logoPhil Goldstein of FierceWireless reported that, “Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) joined the AllSeen Alliance, an open-source project founded on Qualcomm technology and aimed at coming up with a standard to connect devices and have them interact as part of the Internet of Things. The software giant’s participation in the group adds heft to its membership, which has been largely dominated by consumer electronics and home appliance makers.The AllSeen Alliance’s leading members include Haier, LG Electronics, Panasonic and Sharp, and in total the group now has 51 members. Adding Microsoft could ensure that future Windows devices interact with other connected gadgets via the AllSeen Alliance’s specifications.”

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Artificial Intelligence Pushes Ahead in China

Baidu logoA recent press release revealed that, “There are signs indicating that Chinese Internet users might be the very first group of people to truly reap the benefits of artificial intelligence. The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology, written by Ray Kurzweil, painted us a picture of artificial intelligence. Kurzweil describes his law of accelerating returns which predicts an exponential increase in technologies; in the book he says this will lead to a technological singularity in the year 2045, a point where progress is so rapid it outstrips humans’ ability to comprehend it. Baidu, the leading Chinese search service provider, recently announced their ground-breaking Light App (a modified kind of web app), the Baidu Exam-Info Master. Using the artificial intelligence of their search engine, Baidu seeks to offer some practical help to high school seniors when it comes to applying for their dream college after the National College Entrance Examination. This service has soon become wildly popular among users, and may grow into a key motivation for Baidu to duplicate this kind of method into a far broader area.”

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Ray Kurzweil, Google Discuss Artificial Intelligence (video)

Photo of Ray Kurzweil presenting at Google I/O 2014Signe Brewster of Gigaom recently wrote, “In 2012, Google hired Ray Kurzweil to build a computer capable of thinking as powerfully as a human. It would require at least one hundred trillion calculations per second — a feat already accomplished by the fastest supercomputers in existence. The more difficult challenge is creating a computer that has a hierarchy similar to the human brain. At the Google I/O conference Wednesday, Kurzweil described how the brain is made up of a series of increasingly more abstract parts. The most abstract — which allows us to judge if something is good or bad, intelligent or unintelligent — is an area that has been difficult to replicate with a computer. A computer can calculate 10 x 20 or tell the difference between a person and a table, but it can’t judge if a person is kind or mean. To get there, humans will need to build computers that can build abstract consciousness from a more concrete level. Humans will program them to recognize patterns, and then from those patterns they will need to be smart enough to learn to understand more.”

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