FASTforward: Leveraging Search to Drive Innovation in Information Services

Gerry Campbell, president of search and content technologies at Reuters, spoke about how Web 2.0 has set information free from many of the content silos where it used to be entrapped, but there’s a major information overload problem since consumers need related and relevant information presented together in order to provide context. Users want more relevant information, faster; causal relationships between the information and more sophisticated patterns, and the ability to make comparisons.

People don’t just want the “what”, they want the “why”: where relationships are understood in order to provide insight, not just data. The missing element is context: the layer of meaning created through understanding the relationships of facts and entities, including people, companies, places and events. This layer of contextual intelligence vastly improves the quality of search, and hence information accessibility.

To address this, Reuters is creating a transformational platform. Starting with content and metadata as input — Reuters content, partnered content and the entire web — the information is then processed to understand the content, the queries that will be made against that content, and the needs of the users. The output is not just basic content, but insight and knowledge. ClearForest, a recent acquisition of theirs, will do a lot of that processing to automatically extract and tag content. Furthermore, Reuters is using this to create Calais, an open and free web service to discover entities, events and relations in text and automatically generate metadata, transforming basic text to semantic web content.

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