Erick Schonfeld at TechCrunch draws my attention to SemanticHacker. The site details an invitation from Rochester, NY-based TextWise to suggest compelling applications powered by their API, in return for a guaranteed payment of $100,000 and up to $900,000 in revenue from subsequent commercialisation of the winning idea.
The challenge starts today, and runs until 18 June 2008. Entrants must be based in the United States, which rather unfortunately excludes the Semantic Web research powerhouses in Europe and Asia.
Quoting from the site;
"What will make you a winner in the SemanticHacker Innovators' Challenge?
- Develop a software prototype, business plan or both that will have demonstrable commercial viability and the potential for significant financial impact on the application space to which it is applied.
- Focus your submission on a vertical market. Areas such as finance, health and pharmaceuticals are just a few of the industries that might be a good place to start."
At the heart of TextWise's technological offer is an API they describe as "the world's first open API for Semantic Discovery." That strikes me as an assertion that probably needs to be ringed with caveats and footnotes if it's to stand up to closer scrutiny. This API enables developers to draw upon SemanticSignatures, defined as;
"a representation of ALL concepts covered in a block of text. Each block of text contains semantic dimensions ("concepts") with associated weights. The dimensions capture the strength of each concept in the text.
Semantic Signatures provide a weighted representation of the concepts contained in a piece of text. The weight of each concept represents the strength of that concept in the text. The Semantic Signatures for two pieces of text that both address the same subject will share many common concepts with high weights. Our technology can therefore recognize that these two pieces of text are related even though they share no common keywords."
It will be interesting to see what sort of entries this competition attracts, and the fact that TextWise have taken this course speaks volumes to the increasingly crowded semantic text analysis market. There's a lot of consolidation to come in this market segment, and the current players are working hard to draw attention to themselves. I, for one, would welcome some more effort devoted to explaining why they're different.