find.com and XML





Q. What's the deal with find.com ?

A. I'd never heard of the site before, but I've taken a look at it. Here's what a quick review shows.

1. find.com is a new (actually, “relaunched”) search engine that's apparently hoping to capture part of Google's market. The search engine is apparently controlled by a company named Scientigo (which is said to have a “51% interest”). This is a negative point, because Scientigo is a patent troll. The company has made an audacious claim; specifically, that they have intellectual property rights related to a computer language known as XML.

This is significant, because most web pages and many modern data formats are based (directly or indirectly) on XML. Scientigo is, in effect, claiming that it has the right to exact tolls for the use of the Internet and hundreds of existing software tools.

2. Scientigo's claims appear to be without merit. Here's a relevant quote from XML co-inventor Tim Bray, courtesy of Groklaw:

The notion that an application filed in January 1997 can cover a technology whose first public draft was in November 1996, and which was based on a then ten-year-old ISO standard, seems ridiculous on the face of it. So one assumes that they're not trying to put a tollboth on XML itself, it must be some particular B2B application of it or some such. There are no specifics of what they're claiming on their Web site.

For more information about this issue, see the Groklaw article that I've quoted above.

3. As far as the search engine (find.com) goes, it's apparently based on a technology named Tigo Search® or tigo|search®. Scientigo won something known as a “Bertl” award in 2006, apparently for the technology in question or for a related technology. However, as of December 2009, the Bertl site is down. Additionally, I've found very little information about Bertl on the Web. These points suggest that the Bertl award may not be of great significance.

4. I haven't found much information about Tigo Search® either. In fact, the only information that that's turned up so far is that Tigo Search® is related to something called “topification technology”, a phrase that nobody but Scientigo seems to be using in the context of search engines. I'd like to see a precise definition of “topification technology” in this context, but the only specifics that I've found so far are that “topification technology” is something that “helps people stop searching and start FINDing”. This sounds positive, but from an engineering perspective, it's not useful information.

5. Scientigo is a pink-sheet company. Some companies of this type manage to survive, but pink-sheet status isn't exactly a strong positive point. Additionally, it appears that the company's financials were quite poor at one point. I don't know what the current numbers look like.

6. My guess, and this is simply an opinion, is that neither Scientigo nor Scientigo's version of find.com has a future. If the company does have a future, growth may not benefit current shareholders, because there's likely to be a lot of dilution over time.

It's possible that one of the majors will buy the company. Presently, the XML claims appear to be nonsense, so a buyout is probably the company's best bet.





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