On a Sunday afternoon, he was kind enough to spare a few minutes to chat with YourStory about one of his products, Topic Minder. Listen in.
What is Topic Minder?
It is a tool for researching a topic. You specify a broad topic, such as ‘cloud computing,’ or a narrow one, such as ‘use of tablets in healthcare.’ Topic Minder finds the most relevant sources of information, tracks it, and delivers relevant information daily.
Who are the users?
Market research teams, for performing secondary research; technology analysts, for gathering raw information and producing analysis reports; product teams, to keep track of technologies related to their products and industry segments; and researchers, as a tool to gather raw information on a variety of topics.
How does it work?
You choose a topic and specify a few related keywords; and you specify some of your current sources of information. Topic Minder discovers new sources of information; it tracks these sources and aggregates and filters information; and it delivers daily email alerts or a custom RSS feed for further analysis or integration into portals and other products.
Why can’t we simply use search?
Search is designed to give you the highest-ranked information (which stays the same over long periods of time). In contrast, Topic Minder is designed to give you the most current information.
Search is designed for breadth to cover a large number of websites, so information tends to be generic, whereas Topic Minder is designed to give you depth by tracking the most relevant sources of information for specific topics and subtopics.
And, while search can be time-consuming (because you need to perform it repetitively, and select the most relevant information manually), with Topic Minder, you specify your topics once, and it tracks multiple sources, aggregates and filters information, and brings you the most relevant and current information.
Can you give us an example?
Let us say that you want to track developments in an emerging technology (like cloud computing). You can search for “cloud computing” and get millions of results. Topic Minder, on the other hand, first creates the ontology on cloud computing, and uses it to find relevant sources and gather information.
How does it compare with Google Alerts?
Google Alerts is great if you want breadth. Topic Minder gives you depth. In one experiment we did for tracking developments in multi-core, we found 3-5 times more relevant news using Topic Minder than Google Alerts.
Is Topic Minder automated?
Topic Minder has two parts: Semi-automated (for creating the ontology for your topic, finding and ranking sources, and fine-tuning queries), and automated (for reading RSS feeds and aggregating them, filtering information using a search engine, removing duplicates, generating custom topic RSS feeds, and generating email alerts).