It’s Time for Computers to Allow You to Find Information ’’The Way You Think,’’ Says Siderean Founder; The End of the Digital Jurassic Era, and the Rise of Human Insight
SCOTTSDALE, AZ -- March 21, 2005 -- Bradley P. Allen, founder of Siderean Software, Inc., told industry executives today that the “Jurassic Era” in information management technology is nearly over, and that its next evolution will favor agility and human insight as key adjuncts to the technology. Allen made these remarks today during a general unveiling of his company to the information technology industry at the PC Forum, taking place this week in Scottsdale, AZ.
Commented Esther Dyson, editor of the Release 1.0 newsletter, a CNET Networks property, and host of PC Forum: “Our problem now is not access to information, but access to the right information. When everything is technically the proverbial ’one click’ away, what’s the right click to make? Often, you’re not looking for just one thing; you’re trying to discover more context about what you have already found.” Figuratively, Dyson said, we don’t need world atlases; we need guides to the local neighborhood.
According to Allen, the vastness of available information has resulted in the evolution of two extremes in information management that both depend upon the raw processing power of today’s computers. On the one hand, he said, are massive and expensive enterprise knowledge management systems that provide a hard-wired and nearly invariant context for the data. “You could find, for example, all purchased metal parts that failed in the field,” he explained afterwards, “but unless the software architects thought of it, you’d hit a wall trying to relate that to world steel prices, which could drive quality down.”
At the other end of the spectrum are the statistical search engines, like Google, whose staggering views of worldwide data can produce equally staggering lists of uncorrelated results. “How do you explore the subtleties of an issue in the midst of a thousand ’hits’?” he asked. “We’re in a sort of ’digital Jurassic Era,’ where the growth of computing power has favored the evolution of brawn, where mass prevails over insight,” he stated. “The result is that only a small fraction of the relevant information buried inside the worldwide glut of data makes it into the hands of those who seek it.”
The solution, Allen said, is to re-task computers to leverage the way we “think” about data, and to let us help in its management. “Humans are brilliant at zeroing in on ’the right answer’ when presented with information that is organized into natural and familiar groupings (or categories). We instantly discard the 90% that is unimportant, drill down into the remaining 10%, discard 90% of that, and within two or three iterations we arrive at what we need, if it exists. We can then crawl around Esther’s ’neighborhood,’ and learn a great deal in a very short time. Seeing information organized into familiar contexts is the key,” he said.
Allen’s company, Siderean, has implemented just this capability with a new approach to information management that dynamically organizes the available data to exploit such human insight. According to Allen, the computer is programmed to take its vast processing power and long reach into data to present us with natural and intuition-aiding choices, but we interactively make the critical decisions -- in context. “Philosophically,” said Allen, “this approach fills the huge gap between knowledge management systems and Google, and for the first time strikes a true balance in the real-time contribution of people and computers in productively navigating information -- a fact that becomes evident from the small footprint, comparatively low cost, and outstanding results of the technology.”
Turn-key Faceted Navigation
There has been, of late, enough thinking about exploiting human insight in navigating digital data that people have begun calling such approaches “directed navigation” or “faceted navigation,” with the occasional application beginning to appear. “Facets” refer to the dimensions or multiple classes in the presentation of available data (such as “color,” “size,” and “price range” or “sex,” “age range,” “location,” and “viewing preference”).
“The challenge,” said Dyson, “is to make it simple for the content provider to arrange things in a way that not only makes it easy for users to find the precise information they are seeking, but that also lets them follow ’typed’ links to other relevant data wherever it resides inside the system -- for example, to go from a parts listing, to the maintenance history for one part, to the contact information for the maintenance shop. That’s so natural for a human -- and normally so tough for a machine! Siderean isn’t yet another search engine; I’d call it a structure-discovery and presentation tool.”
What sets Siderean’s technology apart, Allen explained, is the ease by which such capability can be integrated quickly into Web sites, portals, or information management systems by IT personnel or even “ordinary mortals.” It also, out of the box, supports the growing trends of “social bookmarking” -- the process whereby users post online their own bookmarks to sites or data that interests them and others can browse these posts, or even harvest them for republication, and “user tagging” -- which allows online users to “tag” information belonging to others with descriptors (i.e., classifications) that can be used by anyone at some future time to easily unearth that same information.
Although Allen admits such trends are just beginning to gather momentum, they are just one of many possible benefits for Siderean users and potential users. “Our technology goes in typically in a matter of hours -- at worst several days -- and begins offering users the benefits of faceted navigation immediately thereafter. It’s a significant step in the evolution of information management and a clear departure from the dinosaur-scale applications that we depend upon today.”
Or, as Allen likes to think, perhaps it’s the meteor. ...
Siderean Software, Inc. is the world’s first company to introduce turn-key, enterprise-class software that permits you to navigate information “the way you think.” Siderean’s breakthrough technology automatically organizes any kind of digital information -- whether structured or unstructured, wherever it resides -- into intuitive groupings that permit users to rapidly grasp the scope of what’s available and to drill down to precisely what they require -- a process that is proving to be substantially faster, more effective, and more precise than existing knowledge management or search solutions.
Siderean’s next-generation Seamark(TM) software, built on open standards, is easy to implement into existing portals, browser and custom applications -- often in a matter of hours -- and automatically provides turn-key interfaces for use by both information architects and end users.
Siderean’s software can be seen in operation at several high-profile sites on the Internet, and is installed for internal use at a growing number of enterprises. Its technology, for which several patents have been filed, benefits from the company’s mission to achieve the proper balance between man and machine in organizing information, and the vital role of human intuition. The company, based in El Segundo, California, has raised $6 million from Clearstone Ventures, Innocal, and Red Rock Ventures. For more information, visit www.siderean.com.
Editors’ Note: All trademarks and registered trademarks are those of their respective companies.
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