Posts Tagged ‘Yandex’

Crisis in the Ukraine Could Impact Outsourced Semantic Projects

ukraineThe last few months have been witness to the Ukraine crisis, with antigovernment demonstrations in the wake of former President Viktor Yanukovych tightening ties with the Kremlin, his fleeing the country following a rebellion against him, and the annexation of Crimea by Russia. Tensions continue between Ukraine, which plans new presidential elections for May 25, and Russia. Just today, the mayor of Kharkiv, reportedly an opponent of the pro-West protests, was shot in the back, while the U.S. is imposing new sanctions on Russian government officials, including two members of President Putin’s inner circle and 17 companies linked to that inner circle.

Obviously, there are big issues at stake here about sovereignty and nation destabilization, but the situation also has implications for the IT sector. That includes the advancement of semantic projects around the world.

The Semantic Web Blog, for example, recently heard from a contractor working on a semantic project for a website that the effort has fallen a bit behind schedule due to, among other things, geopolitical events. One of its developers was a Russian national working in Ukraine who left the country when Putin annexed Crimea, he said.

Another source who preferred to remain anonymous, and whose semantic technology and IT outsourcing company is located in another Eastern European country, said that his company has already been contacted by a few businesses in the U.S. that had been securing services from software companies in both the Ukraine and Russia. Because of the situation, he said, these companies told him that they are now exploring their options in Eastern European countries that are members of the European Union. In such locations, including his home country, they can find great engineers and still quite competitive rates on the labor side, he noted.

That said, it was clear that that wasn’t the road to new business that this semantic tech executive prefers to travel down, as he noted that World War II and the Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe is still within the living memory of people in these countries.

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Open The Door To Bringing Linked Data To Real-World Projects

ld1Linked Data: Structured Data on the Web is now available in a soft-cover edition. The book, authored by David Wood, Marsha Zaidman, Luke Ruth, and Michael Hausenblas, and with a forward by Tim Berners-Lee, aims to give mainstream developers without previous experience with Linked Data practical techniques for integrating it into real-world projects, focusing on languages with which they’re likely to be familiar, such as JavaScript and Python.

Berners-Lee’s forward gets the ball rolling in a big way, making the case for Linked Data and its critical importance in the web ecosystem:“The Web of hypertext-linked documents is complemented by the very powerful Linked Web of Data.  Why linked?  Well, think of how the value of a Web page is very much a function of what it links to, as well as the inherent value of the information within the Web page. So it is — in a way even more so — also in the Semantic Web of Linked Data.  The data itself is valuable, but the links to other data make it much more so.”

The topic has clearly struck a nerve, Wood believes, noting that today we are “at a point where structured data on the web is getting tremendous play,” from Google’s Knowledge Graph to the Facebook Open Graph protocol, to the growing use of the schema.org vocabulary, to data still growing exponentially in the Linked Open Data Project, and more. “The industry is ready to talk about data and data processing in a way it never has been before,” he continues. There’s growing realization that Linked Data fits in with and nicely complements technologies in the data science realm, such as machine learning algorithms and Hadoop, such that “you can suddenly build things you never could before with a tiny team, and that’s pretty cool….No technology is sufficient in and of itself but combine them and you can do really powerful things.”

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Where Schema.org Is At: A Chat With Google’s R.V. Guha

 

rvg Interested in how schema.org has trended in the last couple of years since its birth? If you were at The International Semantic Web Conference event in Sydney a couple of weeks back, you may have caught Google Fellow Ramanathan V. Guha — the mind behind schema.org — present a keynote address about the initiative.

Of course, Australia’s a far way to go for a lot of people, so The Semantic Web Blog is happy to catch everyone up on Guha’s thoughts on the topic.

We caught up with him when he was back stateside:

The Semantic Web Blog: Tell us a little bit about the main focus of your keynote.

Guha: The basic discussion was a progress report on schema.org – its history and why it came about a couple of years ago. Other than a couple of panels at SemTech we’ve maintained a rather low profile and figured it might be a good time to talk more about it, and to a crowd that is different from the SemTech crowd.

The short version is that the goal, of course, is to make it easier for mainstream webmasters to add structured data markup to web pages, so that they wouldn’t have to track down many different vocabularies, or think about what Yahoo or Microsoft or Google understands. Before webmasters had to champion internally which vocabularies to use and how to mark up a site, but we have reduced that and also now it’s not an issue of which search engine to cater to.

It’s now a little over two years since launch and we are seeing adoption way beyond what we expected. The aggregate search engines see about 15 percent of the pages we crawl have schema.org markup. This is the first time we see markup approximately on the order of the scale of the web….Now over 5 million sites are using it.  That’s helped by the mainstream platforms like Drupal and WordPress adopting it so that it becomes part of the regular workflow. Read more

Yandex Boosts Precision Ad Targeting; Machine-Learning Method MatrixNet Is Behind The Scenes

Search engine Yandex said today that it’s boosting its precision-advertising audience targeting, and that the potential is there to increase clickthrough rates from banner ads by hundreds of percents.

To get there, the search engine vendor has enhanced its behavior analytics technology Crypta, which is based on its machine learning method MatrixNet and whose earliest history is in learning to tell gender and age groups from one another to show relevant ads. Now, all kinds of demographics are covered, and Crypta can find various patterns in a website visitor’s behavior and pair them with other visitors’ similar behavior to show targeted banner ads. Crypta, according to the company, continually keeps its knowledge updated by processing and updating information about virtually every Yandex user on a daily basis.

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Yandex Co-Founder, CTO Ilya Segalovich Dies

Photo of Ilya SegalovichYandex, the leading Internet search service in Russia, has lost its co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer, Ilya Segalovich. Segalovich, the company reports, had been diagnosed with a treatable form of cancer and was responding well to treatment before unexpectedly succumbing to complications. DBpedia already has accounted for the news, as has Freebase.

Yandex’ portfolio of search technologies include everything from its method of machine learning, dubbed Matriksnet, to its Spectrum query statistics that analyzes a 5 billion query search log to find ‘objects’ in queries, categorize them in 60 categories, and map each query into one of possible ‘user intents’ according to a category of the object. It also, of course, signed on to support schema.org a couple of years back to leverage webmasters’ use of the structured data markup in its search results.

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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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Search Engines Focus on Mobile Devices, Get Local

Laurie Sullivan of SearchBlog reports, “Local search continues to be the focus of engines looking to capture market share. Blekko and Yandex launched mobile browsing features Tuesday that serve up information on nearby businesses. Blekko released izik (pronounced Isaac) for smartphones, bringing search to iOS and Android users. The company’s first app for smartphones features a new ‘What’s Nearby’ option to serve up information on gas stations, restaurants, movie theaters and other places of interest.” Read more

Yandex’ New Interactive Snippets: Now Users Can Book, Buy And Pay Bills Right From Its Search Page

Rich snippets – yep, they were a nice start, but Russian search engine Yandex thinks it’s time for something more powerful. Something it’s calling interactive snippets and a feature it’s branding as Islands for its search results pages.

Yandex says the new feature evolves from rich snippets, which CTO Ilya Segalovich refers to in the press release as “mere decoration.” Interactive snippets, in contrast, are actionable, letting users do things like book movie tickets, make reservations or pay bills right from the search page. Webmasters can choose to add this functionality to their web sites if they want to, and while it may get their business customers – especially those using smartphones and tablets – who want to make their transactions as seamless as possible, it does mean those users won’t be making the journey to the business’ own web site.

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Libraries: Time To Take Your Place On The Web Of Data

At The Semantic Technology and Business conference in San Francisco Monday, OCLC technology evangelist Richard Wallis broke the news that Content-negotiation was implemented for the publication of Linked Data for WorldCat resources. Last June, WorldCat.org began publishing Linked Data for its bibliographic treasure trove, a global catalog of more than 290 million library records and some 2 billion holdings, leveraging schema.org to describe the assets.

“Now you can use standard Linked Data technologies to bring back information in RDF/ XML, JSON, or Turtle,” Wallis said. Or triples. “People can start playing with this today.” As he writes in his blog discussing the news, they can manually specify their preferred serialization format to work with or display, or do it from within a program by specifying to the http protocol for the format to accept from accessing the URI.

“Two hundred ninety million records on the web of Linked Data is a pretty good chunk of stuff when you start talking content negotiation,” Wallis told the Semantic Web Blog.

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WolframAlpha Updates Its Personal Analytics for Facebook

Back in September WolframAlpha unveiled its Personal Analytics for Facebook. With Personal Analytics, which The Semantic Web Blog covered here, you could visualize your networks, friends and social activities – and late last month it was updated to give even more insight into you and your Facebook linkages.

Not in the same way that Facebook does with its recently-launched Graph Search (see our story here). It’s not, for example, going to tell you who else out there likes running and lives in Nassau County, NY, or your favorite books that your friends also have read. In its initial debut, Personal Analytics for Facebook would show you things like gender distribution among your friends, or their common names, or who you share the most friends with.

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