I don’t normally discuss individual software products, but a few days ago in a private post (and here) Jack Vinson mentioned Intellext’s personal search bot called Watson, which I had not seen. It does look very interesting, especially since I do a lot of research in a lot of different sources, as he does. As Jack described it, “It watches what you are writing (in Microsoft Office applications and some web browsers) and constantly searches sources for related materials. The sources can be your traditional Google searches, Amazon products, or they can be internal company repositories.” After reading the site’s marketing materials, it does look like a very beneficial tool for anyone who is interested in a wide range of subjects simultaneously, or is working on research papers. I can’t wait to try it out! Unfortunately, I can’t do it right now. The tool is (currently) free to download, however, it requires Windows XP running Office 2003 and Internet Explorer 6+, and I’m using Office 2000, so it clanks on the installation. The free version is not configurable, but it seems to cover a wide array of freely-available search sources. Maybe this will be the impetus I need to upgrade my software! Have you tried it?
Update September 24: I have now installed Office 2003 and tested Watson. It’s a very interesting tool with a lot of promise, I’m glad to say. The concept is right…let the user set as many custom locations as they want for a context relevant search, and then serve up any matches in clusters. The main complaints I have are UI issues. The display of matches is clustered in a tab-like format that is awkward to use, and the excerpts that show for each “found” reference are frequently unintelligible since they are so truncated. However, the concept is right on! The UI will get better. What may not get better is my other complaint. It’s subscription software. You can download and install the free (limited) version, however, to get the full featured, customizable Watson, you have to pay $9.95 per month. I don’t like endless subscriptions to anything (sounds like the discount buyer’s clubs that telemarketers are always trying to sell), and most certainly not for a research tool I could come to count on. Once they change the pricing model, it’s definitely a tool for KM professionals (and researchers) to consider!