Up above Silicon Valley, IBM has a big research facility. One of the big projects they are working on over there at Almaden is called Web Fountain. Think of it as Google on steroids. A search engine that can determine sentiment (can determine what ambiguous terms on pages actually mean and if the page refers to these terms in positive or negative light (meaning that if some blogger posted "Rails sucks!" Web Fountain could tell that it might actually mean that they are talking about the Ruby on Rails project and the blogger liked it, not that handrails make good vacuums)).

So the news that IBM is open sourcing some search technology that uses "concepts and facts" instead of keywords might lead to some really cool applications. They call it UIMA (it might be different than the Web Fountain stuff (but it says that people from Almaden helped somewhere along UIMA's way)).

Marketing folk would love any tool that can measure "buzz", which is something Web Fountain claims to do. You could see who was talking favorably about your company, and who isn't. (And you could repeat the drill for your competition). Governments would love it because ... let's just say it might help homeland security.

But where's a practical application? Why isn't IBM taking over Google with its new toy? Maybe some inventive folk can hack together something really innovative with this new toolkit. Here's my idea, a blog aggregator that cuts out the cruft.... (when tags start getting gamed it will come in useful)