Michael Keller, Vice Provost and University Librarian, Stanford University, introduced the biggest leap forward since the birth of the World Wide Web: the discovery of concepts not bound by expression or keyword. Its genesis was a company that wanted to discover new uses for small molecules (peptides) to treat rare diseases that are so rare that there is no profit incentive for pharmaceutical companies to work on them. Ruggero Gramatica became CEO and developed a search and match engine for analyzing the literature, which became the company Yewno. Here is the result of a search for “Fall of the Roman Empire”, showing the context of the search term.
The concepts provide a different view than would be seen with a simple keyword search. In a few minutes, we can get a panoramic view of the ideas in the citation. Computational linguistics enables us to enter into the semantic nature of texts. It is part AI, machine learning, and graph theory.
The Yewno platform can identify concepts in documents and let us understand why two concepts are connected. This an answer to the problem of millions of documents available to be discovered; it does what our brains should do up front. The tool is for discovery, not searching. It understands concepts by their position in the text, ranks them, and allows sorting on concepts.
Don Hawkins blogs about conferences for Information Today and Against The Grain. He also maintains the Conference Calendar on the Information Today website and is the Editor of Personal Archiving: Preserving Our Digital Heritage, published by Information Today in 2013, and Co-Editor of Public Knowledge: Access and Benefits, published by Information Today in 2016. He received his Ph.D. degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and has worked in the information industry for over 45 years.