Posts Tagged ‘Gmail’

Good-Bye 2013

Courtesy: Flickr/MadebyMark

Courtesy: Flickr/MadebyMark

As we prepare to greet the New Year, we take a look back at the year that was. Some of the leading voices in the semantic web/Linked Data/Web 3.0 and sentiment analytics space give us their thoughts on the highlights of 2013.

Read on:

 

Phil Archer, Data Activity Lead, W3C:

The completion and rapid adoption of the updated SPARQL specs, the use of Linked Data (LD) in life sciences, the adoption of LD by the European Commission, and governments in the UK, The Netherlands (NL) and more [stand out]. In other words, [we are seeing] the maturation and growing acknowledgement of the advantages of the technologies.

I contributed to a recent study into the use of Linked Data within governments. We spoke to various UK government departments as well as the UN FAO, the German National Library and more. The roadblocks and enablers section of the study (see here) is useful IMO.

Bottom line: Those organisations use LD because it suits them. It makes their own tasks easier, it allows them to fulfill their public tasks more effectively. They don’t do it to be cool, and they don’t do it to provide 5-Star Linked Data to others. They do it for hard headed and self-interested reasons.

Christine Connors, founder and information strategist, TriviumRLG:

What sticks out in my mind is the resource market: We’ve seen more “semantic technology” job postings, academic positions and M&A activity than I can remember in a long time. I think that this is a noteworthy trend if my assessment is accurate.

There’s also been a huge increase in the attentions of the librarian community, thanks to long-time work at the Library of Congress, from leading experts in that field and via schema.org.

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Google Now Comes To Google Search

The next few days will see Google upping the search ante again, whether you’re looking for information in Gmail, Google Calendar or Google+. In Google Search, users will be able to ask questions like what is their flight status or when an expected package will arrive, without having to troll through their emails or delivery tracking information, according to the company’s blog.

Essentially, Google Now capabilities for Android, iPhones and iPads, is coming to Google Search, for all U.S. English-speaking users on tablets, smartphones and desktops too. Both voice and typed search queries are supported. According to the blog, users will be able to get information on their upcoming flights and live status on current flights; see dining plans or hotel stays by querying for their reservations; see what’s on the charge card and order status by asking about their purchases; view their upcoming schedules by asking about tomorrow’s plans; or explore images – by what’s in them or their relationship to trips or events – that they’ve uploaded to Google Plus.

Google is pulling from its swath of connections “trying to understand you,” says David Amerland, author of the new book, Google Semantic Search.

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Email Continues To Smarten Up

The trend is underway for email to get smart. Gmail can leverage JSON-LD and schema.org  to markup information in emails to support interactions with recipients: an RSVP Action for events, a Review Action for restaurants, movies, products and services; a One-click Action for anything that can be performed with a single click; a Go-to Action for more complex interactions to be completed at a web site, as well as Flight interactive cards to confirm reservations and and trigger a Google Now boarding pass. (See our story here about the addition of JSON-LD markup in Gmail.)

Late last week, the search giant also announced that users in its Google Search field trial now can look up Gmail contacts directly from Search. (Those in the field trial can type or speak in queries to retrieve answers in Search from Google Drive or Calendar as well.) With the Gmail integration enabled, Google says users now can do things like get quick directions to a friend’s house or one-tap access to call a contact just by asking for the person’s address or querying for the phone number.

Not to be left out of the intelligent email picture, Yandex late last week debuted Marker.

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Google Talks Structured Data At SemTechBiz

An audience hungry for more knowledge about what Google is doing with structured data got its fill late in the day Tuesday at the Semantic Technology & Business Conference. Jason Douglas, Group Product Manager, Knowledge Graph, presented to the SRO crowd the link between semantic technology and structured data to the changing world of search.

“Search is changing dramatically because users’ lives are changing dramatically,” Douglas said. “We carry our computers with us. The Internet is with us all the time.” While a decade ago the library analogy worked for search, but increasingly users need more on-the-go, just-in-time information. So, today’s search analogy, he said, is more along the lines of the personal assistant – it’s more about giving users answers, and anticipating their needs.

The only way to meet those requirements is for search engines to have an understanding of the real world, to be the virtual equivalent of a real-world personal assistant who knows what and where things are and how they relate to each other. “On the answer side, if we actually know things about the world, it’s not just answering questions [themselves], but providing all kinds of context that helps in different ways,” Douglas said.

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Gmail, Meet JSON-LD

Another announcement by Google this week – one that didn’t get quite as much play as the launch at I/O of Google Play Music All Access and improvements to its search, map and Google + services – was this: Support for JSON-LD markup in Gmail.

The W3C in April published a Last Call Working Draft for JSON-LD 1.0 (JavaScript Object Notation for Linking Data), a lightweight Linked Data format to give data context. It has been shepherded along for some time by the JSON for Linked Data Community Group.

Manu Sporny, who has been instrumental in JSON-LD’s development and is one of the authors of the draft, heralds the news here in his blog, noting that it means that Gmail now will be able to recognize people, places, events and a variety of other Linked Data objects, and that actions may be taken on the Linked Data objects embedded in an e-mail. “For example, if someone sends you an invitation to a party, you can do a single-click response on whether or not you’ll attend a party right from your inbox. Doing so will also create a reminder for the party in your calendar,” he writes.

The news was greeted with enthusiasm on a W3C JSON LD message round, as, as Sporny describes it, “pretty big validation of the technology.”

While noting that Google followed the standard closely, Sporny does point out some issues with the implementation – including a major one that Google isn’t using the JSON-LD @context parameter correctly in its markup examples:

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Talking the Talk — And Walking The Walk — About The Beauty Of Search At Google I/O

“With more features in the Knowledge Graph and more languages, with conversational voice search and hot-wording coming to Chrome on desktops and laptops, and with new Now functionality like reminders….search is becoming a really beautiful and ubiquitous experience that intelligently answers your questions and assists you throughout the day across all screens.”

That’s how Google Fellow Amit Singhal summed up the evolving search experience at today’s Google I/O event. Here’s more about the latest features:

  • Google’s Knowledge Graph, now some 570 million entities strong and growing, is taking it to the stats. Now, users will get important stats powered by the Knolwedge Graph, he said. “Already you can find answers to questions like what is the population of India,” he told the audience, “but starting today we will anticipate your next question,” which may be how that population compares to the population of other countries. So, you’ll get the answer alongside the trends line and see all that in comparison to the population of the two countries whose population is most often compared to India, China and the U.S. Google Knoweldge Graph is also boosting its language support, adding to the existing eight Polish, Turkish, simplified and traditional Chinese.
  • Users in the Gmail search trial already have the capability of finding answers – like when is their upcoming flight or restaurant reservation — without having to sift through email, docs and calendar data. But, said Singhal, things can get better when it comes to letting users get those answers in the most natural way possible, which means Google has been working hard on technologies like voice recognition and natural language understanding. To that end, conversational search, already available on Android and iOS, is coming to all desktops and laptops through Chrome, he said.
  • Joining conversation search is hot-wording, a new interface, or, as he calls it, a “no interface,” where users can ask their search questions without clicking on the mike. Just preface a voice question with, “OK Google,” and Google will speak back the answer to you, drawing among other sources on its Knowledge Graph for the response. Google product manager Johanna Wright gave a demo of the voice experience courtesy of Chrome on a mobile device, working her way through planning a day trip to Santa Cruz through to images of its beach boardwalk, asking “OK Google, how far from here to it?,” where Google, in speaking back the answer, recognized that it referred to the boardwalk and that here was her current location.
  • Enter Google Now: Singhal talked up anticipation (it’s more fun if you pronounce it like Tim Curry in the Rocky Horror Picture Show number), and the usefulness of having the right answer suggested at the right time, even before a user asks. That’s what is set to happen with an on-the-way feature that lets users set reminders in Google Now to show up when they need them. Also launching on the Google Now front are other new cards: public transit commute time cards and more cards for music albums, tv shows, and video games. Google is now “even more useful as an assisted tool,” he said.

Of the new age of search, Singhal said it’s not around the corner, that it will be some time before this becomes the predominant search experience. “There are lots of complex and scientific problems to solve, but our investment and commitment to getting there sooner rather than later is immense.”

 

SkyPhrase NLP Tech Helps Users Get More Out Of Google Analytics

Google Analytics gives web site owners good information about what’s clicking with visitors to their site, how those users got there, and more. But, attaining that insight can be somewhat laborious for those not well-versed in the tool and its interface, says Nick Cassimatis, associate professor in the Department of Cognitive Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He’s the founder of natural language processing technology startup SkyPhrase. His take: Apply SkyPhrase to the task, and things get a lot easier.

The startup in February began private beta testing of its NLP interface to Google Analytics. “Google Analytics lets you ask things like how many people from California visited the site last month, or which of your pages were most visited on mobile devices,” says Cassimatis. “Our system lets you ask these questions in natural language and get answers to them” more seamlessly than using Google Analytics alone.

Previous to bringing its NLP help to Google Analytics, SkyPhrase had a public site that let users run natural language searches of their Gmail or Twitter accounts, as well as flights and music.

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Blackberry 10 Debuts, Smart Touch-Screen Keyboard Is Onboard, As Is New Employee Alicia Keys

Blackberry president and CEO Thorsten Heins with new global creative director Alicia Keys.

The new and long-awaited Blackberry 10 line from Research In Motion (RIM) makes its debut today. The company that once defined the smart phone market has a lot riding on it, and it remains to be seen if the new models debuting today will revive its fortunes. It’s already revived its name: Thorsten Heins, President and CEO, revealed at the launch today that “from this day forward, RIM becomes Blackberry.”

The two models that kick off its re-engineered approach to mobile computing are the Blackberry Q10 with a hybrid touch-screen/keyboard and the Z10 with a full touch-screen and onscreen keyboard, powered by the Blackberry 10 platform. Of the Q10, Heins said, “We built this for all those people who told us, ‘we just have to have a physical keyboard typing experience’.” Given Blackberry users’ well-known attachment to traditional keyboards, getting the onscreen keyboard right is going to be a big concern for tried-and-true Blackberry users.

As on the Blackberry Playbook before it, SwiftKey – the best-selling Android app of 2012— is reportedly behind the virtual keyboard technology on the new models. Though that vendor wasn’t named in the launch presentation during the demo of the touch-screen keyboard capabilities, the features Blackberry demonstrated pointed to the company’s leveraging the cross-platform SwiftKey software development kit for at least some of the new devices’ capabilities.

And what’s behind SwiftKey is natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning technology to speed up touch-screen typing.

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Google Incorporating Gmail into Search

Marcela De Vivo reports that Google is experimenting with incorporating Gmail into search results. De Vivo explains, “If you are taking a trip to Tahoe and want to learn more about biking, Google would pull up information about biking in Tahoe into the main organic SERPs. Additionally, they will search your Gmail inbox for emails, including the terms ‘biking in Tahoe,’ and deliver those results on the top, right hand side of the SERPs, giving you access to personalized information regarding your keyword.” Read more

Sentiment Intelligence in The Workplace: Watch Your Corporate Tone!

What’s the tone of your corporate email or text communications? There might be some important reasons to have a better understanding of how employees’ words might be interpreted, before they hit the send button.

Sentiment intelligence in the corporate setting is the focus for Lymbix, whose ToneCheck add-in for Microsoft Outlook 2007 and 2010 tags content across eight emotional layers (funny, exciting, angry, and so on) to make sure that it conveys actual intent. “We built a large emotive lexicon repository to essentially understand more of what people feel with respect to emotive context,” says Josh Merchat, co-founder and CTO. “We had to create a more advanced sentiment system because knowing just that something is positive or negative doesn’t give you a good understanding of where there could be misinterpretations in tone.”

In fact, in addition to software algorithms for tone analysis, it’s leveraging the crowd-sourcing model with its Tone-a-Day application. This lets real people (some 10,000 registrants so far who have to meet quality specs in terms of language understanding) rate the tones of words and phrases against its various categories of emotion to win points and prizes, as well as fees for service for its top community members. “We leverage what we believe is an important component to sentiment, which is the human approach,” Merchat says. Human subjectivity, he says, is where sentiment analysis technologies often fall down.

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