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|In Google's new language, the one on the bottom is now known as a "muscu."|
Let's start with a definition of "wordsense disambiguation."
After that, we'll explain the rationale for Google's creating a new language that will replace the English language altogether.
Okay, for starters, wordsense disambiguation is a field of study that tries to remove ambiguity from language.
Search engine companies like Google would love for language to not be ambiguous.
The classic textbook example of an ambiguous word is a search that uses the word "mouse" – were you looking for information on a small rodent or a computer accessory? It's hard to know.
Wordsense disambiguation algorithms are designed to ferret out (couldn't resist the rodent pun!) whether, for example, you are looking for mouse, the animal, or mouse, the computer part.
I don't know a ton about the algorithms but presumably they take into account the other words in your search, leverage a huge database of idioms, and perhaps derive context based on other things you've searched for in the recent past.
The goal for the search engines, of course, is to get you the information you are looking for, avoiding any search results that might have you barking up the wrong tree (apologies to any of you who came to this page looking for pet or dendrology information).
A Few More Examples of Wordsense Disambiguation Challenges
My database of venture capital firms by state, on my entrepreneurial resources website, used to always get kids looking for, say, the "capital of Wisconsin" and that would, erroneously, get them to a page about "raising capital in Wisconsin." It seems that Google and other search engines have improved their algorithms because I get fewer of those misdirected folks than I used to in the past. Bravo! But we still have work to do, guys.
As yet another example, I recently wrote a Walker Sands blog post about getting local PR placements if you are a national firm. After writing my post, I searched for "local pitching" in my favorite search engine, just to see who else had covered the topic and what they had to say. Of course, instead of getting articles on local PR pitching, I got mostly articles about things like "local pitching phenoms" and "local pitching coaches" – references to pitching in baseball, rather than pitching for PR purposes.
OK, sure I could simply refine my search. I can change the search to be "local pitching
-baseball -softball" and get a little closer. The minus signs (i.e. dashes) tell the search engine to not give me results that include the words "baseball" or "softball."
But, it's 2010. I think we are long overdue to reinvent human language to be more useful to us, and I've got the right guys for the job.
Google, Please Reinvent the Human Language
Deep within the bowels (apologies to those of you who came to this page looking for information on your gastroinstestinal disorder) of Google, a team of smart folks is working on a top-secret project, code named GOOGLE GLUE (Google Language Universal Edict) or perhaps GOOGLE LEAK (Language Etymology Automation Kit), that involves creating a new language that is optimized for getting the best possible results from search engines. Yahoo and Microsoft Bing team members are also rumored to be working on the project.
The process involves getting rid of ambiguous words altogether. For example, we will no longer be using the word "mouse" to simultaneously describe a furry rodent and a computer accessory. The new word for the computer accessory is "muscu." – make a note of it. Use of the word "mouse" will continue to refer to our rodent friends.
By eliminating synonyms from the English language, we will be increasing human productivity to amazing levels. Language will once and for all have precision. Those of us who learn Google's new language will say what we mean and mean what we say. There will be no ambiguity in Googlese, Googlish, or whatever we end up calling it, none whatsoever.
To make room for all the new words we are going to need, we are going to get rid of all the excess baggage in human language. All those words in the dictionary that are marked as "archaic" – kiss them goodbye!
Having indexed billions of pages of content, Google knows which words are important and which words are only used by showoffs who want to impress us with their commodious vocabularies. People who use words like "commodious" are in for a rude awakening any day now!
Personally, I am looking forward to the rollout of Google's new language. I'm tired of wasting time getting search results that are off target.
If I had to place my bets on which is the better route to improve search productivity – wordsense disambiguation or a new language created by the rocket scientists at Google – my bet is on the latter, and I'm confident it will be no less impactful on our world than the Industrial Revolution was.
By the way, in case you were wondering, there is no entry for "wordsense disambiguation" in the new Google language.
Apparently, it's no longer necessary to have a phrase regarding eliminating the ambiguity in words. With Googlish, we've got that problem nailed (apologies to those of you who came here looking for home repair tips).