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A Sea Change in Search Engine Strategy

May 01, 2000|KAREN KAPLAN

Plenty of companies have tried to make better Internet search engines by mimicking the way the human brain works. Now an Ojai start-up is taking a different approach: Its search engine is patterned after the brain of a dolphin.

Instead of simply looking for keywords, the search engines being developed by DolphinSearch look for patterns, a skill at which dolphins excel. The patterns of words reveal clues about their context, allowing the search engine to distinguish between a playground "swing," a golf "swing," and a dance called "swing," for example.

In order to produce search results from the point of view of a golfer, DolphinSearch would need to read about 300 pages (roughly 100,000 words) of golf magazines. Then, when it is searching on the word "swing," it would be able to tell which Web sites that contain the word "swing" are actually about golf, said Andrew Kraftsow, DolphinSearch's president.

Instead of finding golf information on the Web, DolphinSearch's first product--called KnowledgeBox--will help companies find documents on their own computer networks. KnowledgeBox will read through a company's memos, reports, research studies and e-mail, then help employees find the documents they're looking for. It also could be trained to take the point of view of the marketing department by analyzing the patterns in marketing documents only. DolphinSearch expects to release KnowledgeBox in the fourth quarter of the year.

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