I’ve recently discovered OpenCalais and found its concept to be really interesting. OpenCalais is a web service created by Thomson Reuters for extracting semantic entities from natural language text. The quickest way to understand it is to check out the demo app here. You can copy-and-paste some text into the entry box and see OpenCalais does its semantic processing on the text. For example, I pasted this sentence I just read in the New York Times, “Judy Estrin, who has built several Silicon Valley companies and was the chief technology officer of Cisco Systems, says Silicon Valley is in trouble.” The demo app picks out the references to a “Person” named “Judy Estrin” as well as a “Company” named “Cisco Systems.” In addition, it picks out a “Quotation” by person “Judy Estrin” with quote “Silicon Valley is in trouble.” It also picks out a “Person Professional Past” relationship between a person of “Judy Estrin”, a position of “chief technology officer”, and a company of “Cisco Systems.”
Now, just imagine that kind of natural language processing capability available as a Web service API, and that is OpenCalais.