Edo the Reliable ("Amin")

Microsoft’s Bing: Yahoo!-branded Metacrap?

In Semantic Web on May 31, 2009 at 8:58 am

Futuristic Bing has a nostalgic-looking logoBing, Microsoft’s new search engine launching June 3, brands itself as a a “decision engine“. Realizing that users are not looking for words or links but for solutions and services, Microsoft attempts a more coherent and intelligent approach to search, perhaps inspired by some “semantic web” idea.

More coherent and intelligent than Google? A lofty goal, coming from a company whose rambling CEO required multiple inter-cut edits to boost his semantics when announcing the launch of Bing on a Walt Mossberg interview. While we’re in the vicious gossip dept., do I trace a slight insinuation in MacWorld‘s note that Bing “looks a bit like the love-child of Google and WolframAlpha“? They said “love-child” and not just offspring – perhaps alluding to Microsoft’s history as a technology acquirer, sometimes, the rumor goes, outside of legitimate wedlock.

Bing seems to be inspired by the same “semantic web” ideas as Wolfram Alpha, launched just a couple of weeks ago (May 18) though backed by the brilliant two-decade career of Mathematica’s Steven Wolfram. Semantic search is not new, but so far it was only available commercially in subscription-only, corporate-grade search engines such as NetBase’s Illumin8. To the extent in which Bing indeed attempts to go semantic, it would be interesting to see how it evades the pitfalls outlined in Cory Doctorow’s “Metacrap” critique of the semantic web: the three top ones are “People lie”, “People are lazy” and “People are stupid”.

And For Our Next Number

Microsoft’s Bing may be attempting the semantic web leap in an attempt to somersault over Google  – in much the same way Google once used meta-thinking and scalable computing to somersault over Yahoo!’s old, directory-based service. Which brings us to another obvious item.

Bing is short for Bingo!. Branding-wise it’s reminiscent of “Yahoo!” – a once-leading search engine Microsoft recently tried to acquire (and declined to consider cooperating with).

In hindsight, it now appears that the Yahoo! Microsoft buyout drama was only triggered by interest in the Yahoo! brand, not the Yahoo! (YHOO) business. One: Aha! so the Yahoo! buyout was meant to release a Bing branded as Yahoo! Two: It’s a sad day when you discover that your property’s main attraction is now the domain name, and that it is probably not worth “boatloads of money”.

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