I received the Digger beta invite

This was the fastest beta invite confirmation ever. Unfortunately, Digger‘s Terms of Service do not allow any sort of disclosure about features or results from it. This is very different from Powerset which has been going out of its way to get beta subscribers (even unconfirmed ones) to know what they are doing. Digger does not even seem to have a blog, which contradicts the rules for a web2.0 company.

I hope that the difference is that Digger is in the earlier stage than Powerset. If they are not, then Powerset may win this competition just on marketing alone.

So, the only thing I can say about Digger is that my previous idea about them wanting to be really sticky seems to be right on the money. Until the Terms of Service change, you will have to get a beta account yourself to see any more. Or you could apply for a job there.

8 thoughts on “I received the Digger beta invite”

  1. I think the general feel comments must be acceptable. What’s the worst that can happen? They will cut our accounts off.

    Given that they don’t have their own blog, they are probably not tracking ours either. Which is silly for its own reasons, but that’s their own choice.

  2. My feelings are, the system makes a lot of sense, as in, this is the stuff that IR researchers have been talking about for years, no one has been able to pull it off in a business though. By the same token, people have been talkin about this for years, where’s the new exciting ground breaking technology? I think what they are doing is a move in the right direction, I don’t think the experience is the way a next-gen search technology should work. By their own admission they are aiming the for situations that Google can’t cater for. I think thats a strong point, people need to be trained to think differently about search and that will be an incremental process. It still means what they are doing isn’t ground breaking. We have a pretty good idea of how to make search work really well, the problem is usability. Digger is definitely usable just not the way I’d like to see it. 🙂

  3. I think the exciting bit would be scaling the technology for the whole web. Also, I think they had to make it much faster than the research projects do. This might be just the consequence of having faster computers, but I hope they made up some optimisation algorithms as well.

    On the other hand, I very much agree with you that the interface is usable, but not quite there yet.

  4. We appreciate the candid feedback of all our private beta users, every word of which is reviewed by our staff. Note that we allow our private beta users to post their Digger search results on del.icio.us (or to e-mail such results), in a way that does not require a log-in for those with whom they are shared. Our ground-breaking (and patent pending) technology is our scalable, user extensible Word Sense Disambiguation (WSD), optimized for search. As far as we know, no one has been able to do this in a way that is fast enough, and flexible enough for general, consumer web search.
    Several of our private beta users have shared their impressions on numerous public postings, and we have thus far not shut off anyone’s account. As for a blog or any similar communication, we have made strong use of a Wiki that is available to our private beta users. BTW, a public blog is slated within this current calendar quarter.

    Ava M. Serna
    Director of communications, TextDigger Inc.

  5. Dear Ava,

    Thank you very much for the clarification. The email and del.icio.us features are the ones I somehow missed, but I did contribute to the internal WIKI’s comments section. I will certainly look forward to the blog as well.

    On the other hand, “thus far haven’t shut off anyone’s account” does not really clarify whether we are actually allowed to write about it. At this point, I will take it as an at least partial, permission.

  6. Thanks Alex, charitable interpretations are always appreciated.

    The main thrust (and intent) of our user agreement is to prevent people “reverse engineering” the algorithm and giving a blueprint for competitors to use in attempting to emulate our technique.

    Apart from that, we are happy for people to describe their user experience, comparing and contrasting it with that of other sites, and to comment on the potential relevance of our tool to the rest of the Web, and to the future of the Web. Things such as constructive criticisms of the GUI are of course also welcome.

    -Ava

  7. WSD is without a doubt the focus of the engine, I think getting users to help you on that front is the best way of helping build a taxonomy of senses beyond those provided by WordNet for example. Though it might scare some people off, private Betas are good for sorting this stuff out.

    As for emulating the technique, as soon as it launches people are going to start copying it (unless there is a patent on the process or something).

    It’s encouraging to see research techniques being applied to business situations (something I’m currently doing too). Hopefully once people become a bit more educated about the potential of this kind of technology we can hope that technologies like this are used 90% of the time, not the 10% (can’t remember the figure i saw in the Demo video) that textdigger is chasing.

    I think the best thing we can do for now is to teach people that search is an outdated idea. Let’s be frank, textdigger is an incredibly powerful technology that has been boxed to look like something people are familiar with, it’s capable of much much more, and is being held back by the market. Most people just don’t know how to harness that power yet. I see search changing drastically, to the point where the name search wont make sense anymore.

    I have some ideas, which hopefully will get a lot of attention once my current project launches. (ok enough self promotion)

    Ava: good to see you guys are keeping an eye on the goss 🙂

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