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Technology Combs Vertical Categories

By Charles Babcock
Interactive Week
December 18, 2000 1:14 PM PT

In the still-challenged field of Web searching, a new player has emerged, claiming its search engines will yield "rapid and relevant results" that are more akin to a handcrafted directory than a sprawling, wide-angle view of the Web.

Logika has built a search technology that constructs vertical subject areas to produce the results users are looking for, said Matthew Fordham, the Chicago company's 29-year-old president, chief executive and chief technologist. It is building a showcase of its capabilities at First-Search.com, and its first customer is InsideIllinois.com, a composite site of restaurants, businesses, real estate, education, entertainment and health services in Illinois.

If, for example, a visitor to Illinois wanted information on the Titanic, the user could do a search at any well-known search engine site, from AltaVista to Lycos to Google, and come up with results on everything from the shipwreck to "a racehorse named Titanic," said John Sortino, vice president of planning at Logika. But a search for Titanic at InsideIllinois will return information on the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, which is mounting an exhibit on the Titanic.

With its geographically specific results, search at InsideIllinois resembles a site directory, where human intervention has assured the most appropriate URLs are listed as references. In fact, InsideIllinois is based on a million pages of content from 25,000 sites within the state, Fordham said.

It is also possible to perform a broad search of the Web that builds a comprehensive index on a single subject area using Logika's First-Search spiders and FusionBot technology. Fordham declined to disclose details of the process, but said Logika's automated agents crawl the Web much like those of AltaVista or Northern Light Technology. As they crawl, they categorize information by looking for combinations of keywords in the site title or first two pages. When occurring in combination, the keywords produce a likelihood that a given site fits into a vertical category.

Because of this approach, Fordham said, a golf enthusiast can go to "sports" on First-Search, enter "tiger" and get back information on Tiger Woods, not Bengal tigers.

Logika is selling its search methods as a service, and can implement them on a customer's site as if they were part of that site - unlike the horizontal search providers that like to take users to their own portal sites.

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This story originally appeared in Interactive Week.


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