Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Lyrical Connections between Ideas

I had claimed in a recent entry that Softfile has a unique capability, not encountered in any PC application. It doesn't. What I meant is described by Steven Berlin Johnson here and here, namely a search function "smart enough to get around the classic search engine failing of excessive specificity: searching for 'dog' and missing all the articles that have only 'canine' in them. Modern indexing software learns associations between individual words, by tracking the frequency with which words appear near each other. This can create almost lyrical connections between ideas."[1]

DevonThink, the subject of Johnosn's praise, can do this. But it needs OS X.

I actually got a Mac to try this out. Alas, "the lyrical connections between ideas" did not materialize, and I gave up on the Mac.

Still, hope springs eternal.

1. See also my earlier post on Planning for Unexpected Discoveries.

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