Hack Into Hakia

Hakia.com offers a different worldview, by providing credible and fresh health information online. For the first time, users will start to get credibility-stamped search results in full view.

Hakia.com, the Web’s pioneering semantic search engine, announced an update to its BETA site that will help users looking for the most credible and fresh health content on the Web. For the first time, users will start to get credibility-stamped search results in full view, instead of just popularity-ranked results.

More than 100 million people search online for health-related information. Not surprisingly, a staggering 30 percent of searchers have concerns about the quality of the information.

Today’s general search engines, however, are designed to yield only the most popular results. This presents Web searchers with a single viewpoint, which may include outdated, irrelevant or potentially misleading information. Now, hakia.com offers a different worldview, by providing credible and fresh health information online.

To ensure credibility, hakia is providing results from sources that have met the quality criteria set forth by the Medical Library Association. Hakia’s users can now trust what they find, because experts have vetted the sources.

For example, for a query such as “What are the benefits of aspirin,” hakia provides:

  • Credibility — To make its determinations, hakia used the Medical Library Association’s list of quality health web sites. (A full list of these credible websites can be found below). These are clearly marked and displayed at the top of search results page.
  • Freshnesss — The top hakia search results list news, if available, and the most up-to-date information
  • Relevancy — hakia is committed to providing quality search results via semantic technology

MDNG New Media had the opportunity to speak with Hakia.com founder, Riza C. Berkan, PhD, and pose some questions about where Hakia has come from, where it is today, and where it plans to go tomorrow.

Please provide some background information on Hakia (when founded, by whom, future plans, etc.).Based in New York City, hakia is a general purpose semantic search engine. This means that hakia's algorithm generates results based on understanding of the concepts involved, rather than just the occurrence of keywords or the popularity of the pages. It is a radical shift from the mainstay search perspective. We founded hakia in 2004, based on the growing need we see today to manage information better and to reduce information pollution. My background in semantic search stems from my days as a nuclear scientist. I also have a specialization in artificial intelligence and fuzzy logic.

Although currently in BETA mode, hakia is methodically nearing the completion of its development. Last week, we introduced quality-stamped health search, so when a user enters a health-related search term on our site, it will first generate credible results based on websites recommended by the Medical Library Association. hakia will also generate news results whenever possible, with the goal to provide the most credible and fresh information possible. Our hope as we develop our technology is to make searching for quality health information online faster and more relevant to your search. Quality search concept will be deployed in other areas as well such as in finance, law, business, travel, etc., but we thought it would make a considerable impact in health right away.

How does Hakia compare to other search engines out there (eg, Google, Yahoo!)? What are some major resources of information provided to Hakia (PubMed)?

These general search engines that you have mentioned yield only the most popular results available, as their technology is based on popularity ranking. This presents searchers with a single viewpoint, which may include outdated, or potentially misleading information. As we all know, popular information is not always accurate, and it can also be commercially-biased. We realize that credibility is of utmost importance when it comes to your health. This is why we are striving to make searching for health information online better.

Hakia therefore generates quality information by searching the Internet based on meaning-match, rather than just popularity. This saves time and gives people the freedom to search the way they want. As part of our health offering, we have included difficult-to-navigate websites such as PubMed and the World Health Organization (WHO) to our search engine. The searcher can access these sites (http://pubmed.hakia.com, for example), and use our semantic search technology to find the information they are looking for. This is the first time ever that a general search engine is offering credibility-stamped health searches in this manner.

What access is provided by joining the Hakia Club?

Hakia Club is designed for those interested in our search technology and upcoming new releases. By joining the Club, you can rate hakia versus some of the larger players, access Webmasters tools, submit your Web page to be considered for searching on our site, get information on technology licensing, and more.

Describe semantic searching.

Semantic search is generally more intuitive, because the process is similar to how humans think. For example, when you think of using a drug to treat headache, the search engine must understand that you are interested in aspirin, Advil, Tylenol, etc., all those related drugs, as well as curing, healing, relieving actions, and types of headaches like migraine or stiff neck. The results must come from pages where all these relevant concepts are present. If it was only word matching, you would have to try all these combinations of words to cover the range of possibilities. Semantic search converts your "word" search into a "concept" search for better relevancy without relying on any kind of popularity measurement or statistics. Accordingly, it is free of the limitations and manipulations of statistics that are seen in today's search engines.

In other words, semantic search is an empowering technology to enable accurate searches in credible and dynamic content when other technologies fail due to lack of statistical clues.

Run me through some major features of hakia.

The main feature for those interested in searching for health content is the site itself. When a user enters a query such as What are the benefits of aspirin, he or she will see that the first sites that appear are from credible web sites, which have been vetted by the Medical Library Association.

There are two additional major features of hakia:

  • Hakia’s “Meet Others” feature allows users to connect with others that have searched for the same or similar queries. This is an opt-in service and provides an excellent opportunity for those who suffer from the same condition to exchange information.
  • Hakia's Gallery feature is for popular subjects. Galleries categorize different aspects of the individual search term. So for example, if the user searches cancer, he/she will get results from categories including “news,” “symptoms,” “treatments” and more.

When will Hakia move from Beta stage to “live”?

Hakia is expected to complete its development sometime this year. In the meantime, the Beta version is fully available for the public to test. Please try your next health search on hakia!