Reuters Wants To Add Value To Anyone's News Stories

from the watch-this-space dept

While the Associated Press has talked a lot about adapting to a new internet-centric world, there’s still very little evidence that it’s doing anything different. It’s still trying to act like a gatekeeper rather than an enabler. However, it appears that Reuters is actually experimenting with something interesting. It has a new project, called OpenCalais, designed to help any information provider extract useful metadata from written content. In other words, it’s an automated system that you can run an article or a blog post through, and it will return useful data in a structured manner. For example, if you wrote an article about Google’s earning report, it would note that the article was about Google, that it had to do with an earnings report, and maybe connect some important other points. The idea, then, is that the more useful semantic data that’s there, the more useful things that can be done on top of it. For those who believe that better use of semantic data is the key opportunity for newspapers to jump to the internet age, this could represent a very big deal. Of course, there’s a very big “if” in that statement. The service actually needs to work well and be useful. It also needs to attract users. There’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem here, as the really useful apps built on top of that data won’t come unless the data itself is available. Having Reuters behind the project suggests a strong initial base of content, but it remains to be seen how much adoption can actually be driven through this system. Some of it may depend on how much in the way of resources Reuters has put behind this project to jumpstart it (and whether that commitment continues after Reuter’s acquisition by Thomson Financial closes). Either way, it’s an experiment worth following, and one a lot more interesting than simply demanding that people pay more money.

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Companies: reuters

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Comments on “Reuters Wants To Add Value To Anyone's News Stories”

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Tom (profile) says:

Rueters the Platform

Well, if the data is too expensive, it will go nowhere. BUT, I can see where if Rueters becomes the platform, then the “crowd” can take over with mashups that add much more value as new relationships are built that add value. It will be much easier to do that with “structured” data from an article rather than just the article itself. Of course all of this depends on how well the metadata is extracted. Big question is how did Google miss this, it seems like somehting they would come up with.

MrBobDobalina says:

First results from Clearforest acquisition

I was surprised when Reuters acquired text analysis company Clearforest in early 2007, but it’s starting to make sense. I can’t be sure that OpenCalais is powered by ClearForest’s technology, but it’s an obvious fit. I’ve worked with Clearforest and other text extraction/analytic tools in the past and they definitely have their shortcomings, but they are also enormously helpful in processing large quantities of unstructured data (like news feeds). The downsides to these technologies have always been their cost and required time to configure, both of which are addressed by having a central content deliverer manage the process. I expect we’ll see some very cool apps take advantage of this data within only a few months.

free press (user link) says:

Yahoo similar service

There is a similar service called yahoo term extraction webservice. We use that service to categorize free press release posted to our website. For more information about term extraction service visit yahoo term extraction service.

“The Term Extraction Web Service provides a list of significant words or phrases extracted from a larger content. It is one of the technologies used in Y!Q. …”

Accuracy and relevance of yahoo service is not very satisfactory. We would like to experiment with this new reuters service if it is free. Right now we can not afford any paid services because basically we offer free press release distribution service (like

Tom Tague (user link) says:

Re: Yahoo similar service

free press-

Jump in and start experimenting. Yes, it’s 100% free. Yes, it’s going to stay that way.

While the Yahoo service is interesting – these are really two entirely different classes of tools. With Calais you’ll get dozens of entities, facts and events extracted from an article vs. a few small snippets.

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