I went to Powerset‘s first public demo on Tuesday. In Part 1 here, I’ll just post the videos with brief descriptions. In Part 2, I’ll write what I think of their technology.
I barely made it to the event on time and was stuck in the back of the crowd holding the camcorder above other people’s heads, so the recording of the introductory presentation was not very stable. It was basically a PowerPoint with some live demonstration of a few queries where Powerset got much better results than Google. (No surprises there.) Note that all the demos throughout the evening were only searching over Wikipedia. The side-by-side comparisons always have the Powerset results on the left side and Google results on the right side. Unfortunately, due to compression, you probably won’t be able to read a lot of the search results in the videos in this post. I’ll try to describe them in more details in Part 2.
At the end of the presentation, Barney Pell, the Powerset CEO, came through the back of the crowd. When I spotted him, I figured this is the perfect time for my journalistic debut. So I interviewed him about the event and asked for his Powerset elevator pitch.
OK, the lighting got a bit funky in the second half of that clip, and I won’t be putting Bambi Francisco out of a job any time soon…
The interesting part of the night was the demo station where they allow people to compare search results between Powerset and Google. The queries were limited to the form of “What did ___ say?” and people were welcomed to fill in the blank with famous names. The first two names mentioned in the clip were Sergey Brin and Larry Page. The third name tried was the legendary samurai Ieyasu Tokugawa.
After each query, the user was encouraged to vote using one of the three buttons underneath the search box. He could vote that 1) Powerset results were better, 2) Google results were better, or 3) It’s a tie, and the buttons kept track of the counts. In almost all cases, the results were either a tie or Powerset had better answers. The Powerset person assisting the demo and explaining things was Mark Johnson, a product manager for Powerlabs.
More demo. This time someone asked “What did Pooh say?”
Even with the side-by-side comparison between Powerset and Google, the official line is that they “love Google…”
At the end of all the videotaping, I wish Powerset can answer my query “Who ate all the food??” 😉