Searching for business with the Financial Times

March 19, 2009

The Financial Times is not the first place that anyone thinks of to search for things, at least in the Internet sense. That’s not to say that the FT isn’t interested in changing a few perceptions. The Pearson-owned paper, or more specifically, its Web operation Rather: The Pearson-owned FT Group is launching a business news search engine designed to get past the idea of relying on keywords to search for important infomation. The idea, boiled down, is that a business search engine is more likely to give you the results that you want than a massive search engine that yields results for people in every walk of life.

Here is a quick excerpt from the press release. It explains in pretty plain English what the search engine does, though it veers into press-speak territory — that twilight zone of marketing that assigns biblical proportions to earthly things:

The Financial Times Group is announcing the BETA launch of Newssift.com – a next generation search tool that, for the first time will allow business professionals the opportunity to execute a “qualitative” business news search – think a more sophisticated business search equivalent to Google. This one of a kind search tool will provide comprehensive results that contextualize the trends, opinions, and qualitative events that shape business decisions and impact corporate reputations. The groundbreaking semantic technology, aims to create a user-friendly and meaning-based platform that easily locates and compares business news in a qualitative not quantitative fashion. Think of a traditional search as delivering results in buckets, while Newssift.com offers results that passed through a magnifying glass or prism; moving search beyond traditional results and towards refinement.

Here’s TechCrunch, which wrote at length about Newssift:

A search for “Sun Microsystems” brings up further suggestions for refinement, including “IBM,” “Jonathan Schwartz,” and “market share.” You sort of graze around, adding new keywords as they are presented to you. Each keyword you select is added to your string, and corresponding article results appear below. A sentiment pie chart indicates what percentage of the stories are positive, negative, or neutral. Another one breaks the results down by source (Online News, Magazines, Newspapers, Blogs, Research). Clicking on any shaded area filters the results further. …

… I am not sure I would use Newssift every day to stay on top of the latest news, but I can see it as a useful research tool when I have to really dig deep into a topic. It does better with business news than technology. Still, it is worth checking out in that it employs several subtle navigational techniques that make it more of a discovery engine than a search engine.

This sounds like the kind of thing that you will hear about from the FT’s rivals once they’re ready to launch.

(Photo: Reuters)

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