Ask.com have recently joined (or re-joined — they started with natural language search) the growing community of major search engines that are using semantic technology to add extra power to their search results.
They are focusing on making search more contextually aware. If you are searching for a music group (U2 in this instance) show the user things that relate, images, wikipedia entry, etc.
It is quite a bit like Yahoo!’s SearchMonkey enhanced results, but I don’t yet see a public API nor does it look like they are allowing people to publish their own structured data (microformats, RDFa, eRDF or DataRSS). Of course this is a big gaping hole, but one that I am sure Ask will be quick to fill.
Yahoo kicked things off earlier this year by launching BOSS and SearchMonkey. Microsoft not too long ago purchased Powerset which gives them a rather large foot in the door. Now Ask is going back to its roots as.
This all can be seen as a last ditch effort to beat Google at its own game, but I don’t think so. I don’t see this as a last ditch anything. It is a natural progression that makes sense.
Web of things
The Web is moving from a ‘Web of Documents’ to a ‘Web of Things‘. Google rules the Web of documents, their PageRank and other hidden secrets love unstructured goo. But a structured Web of objects and connections is a new game.
Inexorable march forward
As more and more sites start publishing embedded data and more intelligent search engines come online to consume and re-mix this, we will see a resurgence of innovation in search. And more importantly, in *finding*!
Oh, and I am getting a bit tired of Google anyway… You?