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The UK IT Association (UKITA) took notice last week, as many would have done, when Yahoo announced that they have purchased Summly from 17 year old entrepreneur Nick D'Aloisio.
Nick himself has done particularly well out of the deal, with Yahoo paying an estimated £20 million in cash and shares for the company which they are now expected to shut down. Nick D’Aloisio and his team have all been given jobs working at Yahoo as part of the deal.
The main news streams are all focusing on the small IT start-up strikes it rich story, as if we can all be the next Google, Facebook or Microsoft based on work we do in our bedrooms as a hobby. They are ignoring the fact that for every Nick D’Aloisio there are thousands of IT businesses which work hard day in, day out to make a decent living.
At UKITA we recognise that the
real story to come out of the purchase of Summly is how search
companies are focusing on the idea of the semantic web; the internet
that can give us intelligent responses.
Summly has been described as a revelation because it summarises news stories into bite-size nuggets that we can use to decide if we want to read more. It is an automated system that does what journalists and columnists have been doing for countless years, yet if you look at most news aggregators they have a similar service, the difference is they rely on the skills of the writer to have summarised the article in the first paragraph. Summly creates succinct, intelligible “…algorithmically generated summaries using Artificial Intelligence and Natural Language Processing software.”
The story, then, is not that somebody else has joined the tiny minority of tech start-ups that becomes overnight millionaires, the story is that Yahoo recognise that the software that the Summly app uses represents a step towards an internet that understands what the end-user wants, and which is able to respond to search results not using key words and meta-tags, but by understanding the request and responding with the most appropriate answer.
The idea of the internet as an infinite library of archived knowledge has been around for a long time, but the forth coming semantic internet will provide us with fully automated, yet knowledgeable and intuitive, curators for the first time.
By purchasing Summly Yahoo have shown a real intent to get to the front of Internet 3.0
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