November 9, 2010 – AdSense creator Gil Elbaz has scored big with another software tool called Factual. Beginning service to the public in October, Factual organizes bits of useful data strewn across the Internet. Every day, names, numbers, dates, addresses, and other items of unstructured data are added to the Web. Since it doesn’t follow any standard formatting, this data is useless to most computers. Machines can’t readily grasp concepts such as “middle school” or “junior high,” let alone distinguish how they’re related…at least until now.
Bloomberg Business Week brought this to our attention in their article, “Factual Wants to Put the Web in Order.” Factual aims to automatically find and sort this data, amassing a comprehensive collection of datasets that businesses can incorporate into their websites and mobile applications (for a fee). Engineers train computers using principles from an academic field called ontology, which is the science of categorizing words and phrases.
Topics are growing, but for now it is fairly basic with focus about businesses and geographic points of interest. It will be interesting to see where this new toy will end up. Most recently, Facebook has shown interest.
Melody K. Smith
Sponsored by Access Innovations, the world leader in indexing and making content findable.