Next Big Thing – Swipe “human search” for Wikipedia

Wish you could ask Wikipedia really useful questions (and get really useful answers)? Your prayers are about to be answered

Which actresses won Academy Awards when they were under 30 years old in the last 25 years?

Hang on a minute – I’ll just ask my computer. Swipe is a prototype plug-in for Wikipedia that will be shown off at next month’s World Wide Web conference in France, according to New Scientist. It’ll make Wikipedia searchable by less arcane methods than previously, allowing us all to make more of its treasure trove of information.

So you’ll answer my question next month?

Probably not, actually. Swipe will have its limitations when it makes its debut. Principally, it’ll use DBpedia – a collection of 3.6 million pages harvested from Wikipedia – not the full-fat version of the world’s biggest online encyclopedia. Also, it can’t understand proper English yet. You’ll have to fiddle with parameters on the page to get the best results.

That doesn’t sound very “human”

No. But it’s the idea that counts. Our current understanding of how to search individual sites – and the wider web – is of limited use. A future dream of computers that can effectively sift out likely answers to your questions lies behind Swipe’s creation. And that’s to be saluted. Check out the video below for a glimpse of what Swipe can do.

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