Thursday, November 09, 2006

I stumped Ms. Dewey

Or, how Ms. Dewey and Mickey Mouse crashed my computer.

Yesterday I caught the buzz about Microsoft's interactive Flash search engine Ms. Dewey. I went over to the site and started asking questions. While the SEO industry is flabbergasted by the answers you can get to silly questions (actually, she couldn't say anything when I asked "Who is Mickey Mouse?" -- my computer eventually hung and crashed before I got an answer), if you enter real queries, she'll make any number of relevant comments.

What the SEOs haven't noticed about Ms. Dewey is that Ms. Dewey is a semantic search engine. Let me say that again. Ms. Dewey is a semantic search engine. Microsoft's AI is demonstrating an incredible capability for looking at your query and offering relative commentary through the interactive interface.

The AI also analyzes your query patterns and adjusts the commentary accordingly. This is significant, even though the scrolling search results don't necessarily have any relevance (you can ask some things that don't have answers).

The actress who plays Ms. Dewey is Janina Gavankar, who has her own official Web site If you want to really frustrate the search engine, ask Ms. Dewey about Ms. Javankar.

Parents should keep in mind that some of the queries and responses can entail sexual innuendo and explicit commentary. The search engine does not hold back much. I showed my boss how it works and he asked a question that elicited a bit of profanity from Ms. Dewey. Fortunately, he was so schocked he laughed out loud. But that's not the type of response I'd want from the interface if kids were in the room (NOTE: The site censored the character).

My gut feeling is that this may be the new face of search. It makes the experience more entertaining, but it can also be more informative. They must have spent a lot of time working on the interface's responses. Maybe the response database will be updated. I don't know. I hope so. It could become an evolving, almost living personality if they put the effort into it.


Blogger cirdan said...


Maybe you are better than asking the right questions than I am, but to me it seems that Ms.Dewey is inextricably slow loading and her ranking of web pages is less useful or at best on par with what Google does - only Google does it in a fraction of the time. She'll still need a lot of tqeaking before she turns really useful.

11:51 AM  
Anonymous Jim in CO said...

What a waste of time! Surely MS can do better than this...

12:44 PM  

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