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When I Search Online for Pizza, What Do I Really Want?

Searching for pizza in Google returns a badly incomplete list of pizza restaurants

387142237_b0b49d357c_mOdd as it may seem, this question arose during my preparation for yesterday’s conversation with True Knowledge CEO, William Tunstall-Pedoe. You see, one of the demonstrations of True Knowledge’s capabilities takes the form of a local product search that looks – superficially – a lot like Google’s better known Local offering.

Searching for pizza in Google returns exactly what I’ve become accustomed to; a badly incomplete list of pizza restaurants and take aways. My initial presumption was that True Knowledge would do something pretty similar, maybe with the added smarts to find a few more establishments that didn’t explicitly say ‘pizza’ in their name or description.

I presumed wrongly. Instead, True Knowledge returned a pretty comprehensive list of shops that sell pizza; right down to the pokey little ones attached to petrol stations. I’m impressed by the comprehensiveness, and I’m impressed by the reasoning involved in working out that supermarkets like Netto or Morrisons sell pizza.

Comprehensiveness and computational cleverness aside, the stark differences in interpretation of my intention strike me as interesting; is either more ‘right?’ And if we assume, for a moment, that True Knowledge is the one that got it right, does that matter when practically everyone has become conditioned to expect the interpretation Google used?

I did raise this with William during our call, and some of his thoughts on the matter are worth hearing.

What do you think?

Pizza image by ‘wEnDaLicious,’ shared on Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

More Stories By Paul Miller

Paul Miller works at the interface between the worlds of Cloud Computing and the Semantic Web, providing the insights that enable you to exploit the next wave as we approach the World Wide Database. He blogs at www.cloudofdata.com.