Sophia, What the H*LL is Semiotic Search?

I have to be honest, this post isn’t about you, its really about me. Please accept my apologies in advance. You see, I scan hundreds if not thousands of headlines a day and I don’t recall ever seeing a release with the word semiotic in it. In fact I searched my email archive with hundreds of thousands of items and zip, nada, no mentions.

So when I learned that Sophia launched Sophia Enterprise Search and Contextual Discovery  and in the release I saw the word semiotic, I was intrigued. I just had to cover the story.

According to the press release, the company uses a semiotic-based linguistic model to identify intrinsic terms, phrases and relationships within unstructured content so that it can be efficiently recovered, consolidated and leveraged. It continues by saying “Using Sophia Search, organizations are able to minimize compliance risk and reduce the cost of storing and managing enterprise information.”

What does semiotic mean? This is what Wikipedia has to say:

In linguistics, semiotics, also called semiotic studies or semiology, is the study of sign processes (semiosis), or signification and communication, signs and symbols. It is usually divided into the three following branches:

  • Semantics: Relation between signs and the things to which they refer; their denotata
  • Syntactics: Relations among signs in formal structures
  • Pragmatics: Relation between signs and their effects on the people who use them

Semiotics is frequently seen as having important anthropological dimensions; for example, Umberto Eco proposes that every cultural phenomenon can be studied as communication. However, some semioticians focus on the logical dimensions of the science. They examine areas belonging also to the natural sciences – such as how organisms make predictions about, and adapt to, their semiotic niche in the world (see semiosis). In general, semiotic theories take signs or sign systems as their object of study: the communication of information in living organisms is covered in biosemiotics or zoosemiosis.

Syntactics is the branch of semiotics that deals with the formal properties of signs and symbols.[1] More precisely, syntactics deals with the “rules that govern how words are combined to form phrases and sentences.”[2] Charles Morris adds that semantics deals with the relation of signs to their designata and the objects which they may or do denote; and, pragmatics deals with the biotic aspects of semiosis, that is, with all the psychological, biological, and sociological phenomena which occur in the functioning of signs.

Here is an excerpt of the release for more:

Sophia Search is able to deliver a three-dimensional solution to discover, consolidate and optimize enterprise data, regardless of its data type or domain.

Discover — Sophia Search transforms the way organizations manage and analyze critical information by discovering the themes and intrinsic relationships behind their information, without any reliance on taxonomies or ontologies, so that more relevant information may be discovered, extracted and leveraged. Consolidate — By identifying both duplicates and near duplicates, Sophia Search allows organizations to effectively consolidate their information thus minimizing storage and management costs. Optimize — Sophia Search provides partners and organizations with the contextual data that helps them to optimize their information landscape for more accurate search, analytics and compliance.

Sophia customer, Wordtracker, is a company that helps website owners and search engine marketers identify keywords and phrases that are relevant to their or their clients’ business and most likely to be used as queries by search engine visitors. Sophia Search’s Contextual Discovery Engine has resulted in dramatic improvements in keyword insights for Wordtracker customers by increasing the number of quality keywords up to 100 percent automatically harvested from content.

“Sophia test results have shown the potential to greatly improve the quality of keyword insights that we are able to provide our customers,” said Ken McGaffiin, chief marketing officer, Wordtracker. “This is a perspective that is not offered by our competitors and one we are keen to develop.” Sophia Search features a patented Contextual Discovery Engine (CDE) which is based on the linguistic model of Semiotics, the science behind how humans understand the meaning of information in context. The CDE platform automatically detects relationships and themes in unstructured content to enable organizations to seamlessly search, extract, deduplicate and eliminate redundancy of content to minimize risk and reduce the cost of retrieving, storing and managing information.

“Organizations seek effective solutions to discover, recover and leverage enterprise information for increased compliance and information optimization,” said David Patterson, CEO, Sophia. “We designed Sophia Search to indentify & understand information based on its context so that more relevant information can be easily discovered.” Sophia Search is available now to both customers and partners. Pricing starts at $30,000. For more information, please visit:

Of course there is an open door for Sophia to explain more about how their search works and I hope they take my light-hearted humor in the manner in which it is intended.

  • Sabrina
    September 23, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    Saw your story on Sophia and our Semiotic Search capabilities. You’ve got to get on the band wagon as the new craze is Semiotic Search. 🙂 Love to give you a live demo to show you what it does and why folks in Enterprise Search are loving it.

  • Wireless expense management pro
    September 24, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    Still trying to get my head around the whole semiotic search thing, but incredibly interesting stuff none-the-less.
    As someone who has used Wordtracker in the past, it was erie how well some of the terms generated matched what I was advertising. I’d be interested to see a video demo or something on this.

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