Sentius Corp.'s RichLink Embeds Content in Context

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CEO and founder Marc Bookman talks about his company's technology and markets

Sentius Corp. is the developer of RichLink, a patented database linking and embedding technology that automatically adds content to Web sites. RichLink embeds layers of relevant content that pops up at the reader's request in a window called a "Knowledge Burst." The company recently launched its e-publishing suite, which is designed to increase advertising and licensing revenues for publishers. I talked with Marc Bookman, Sentius Corp.'s CEO and founder, about the company's technology, markets, and plans for the future.

Q Content enrichment or enhancement on Web sites is usually a manual process done by editors who code or write annotations and decide upon and provide links. Let's talk about the concept of "automated content enrichment," for readers who might not be familiar with this technology.

A The goal of automatic content enrichment is to enable publishers to rapidly layer additional content and functionality into their documents in a highly scalable manner. The enrichment focuses on helping readers to understand, decide, and act more effectively on that information. One example of content enrichment is enabling English documents with foreign-language assistance to make non-native readers proficient. Another example would be to enable a customer-support person to read a technical document and answer customer inquiries more quickly. Ultimately, Web sites should be able to publish documents to a worldwide audience with the best references based on the language, proficiency, and relationship that they have with the end-user.

The process starts with an analysis of the HTML or XML document to determine the important parts of the page, and then automates and executes the rules for linking. Following this structural analysis, we do a linguistic analysis of words, sentences, and terms. Though it may sound simple, it's quite complex. We've invested tens of thousands of man-hours in the technology to make this work.

Q And is this proprietary technology that was entirely developed by Sentius?

A We built everything from scratch: all the components, the architecture, and our own English-language parser. Recently, we added Inxight's LinguistX package into our system. It's great for analyzing inflections or morphology and doing things like stemming.

Q What kind of content is included in your pop-up Knowledge Bursts besides definitions and descriptions?

A We work closely with our customers to help them crystallize their ideas of what to incorporate into their Knowledge Bursts. That can mean company information, term definitions, marketing messages, and so on. Lately, we've been hearing more requests from our customers and prospects for RichLink-enabled product information that would show the most relevant product info when a reader clicks on a product name. We think that's going to be a big area. We also see great interest in Web sites being able to link their key terms to the latest news items on their site. There are images in some of our content sources and many of our customers intend to include movies down the road. When the tools improve for audio and visual search access, we will be able to link more effectively to multimedia materials.

Q Let's return to our discussion of the term "automated." It would seem that a great deal of people involvement would be required in addition to the automated process, especially in the initial setup process.

A Correct, though our foreign-language application is at the stage where it's pretty easy for us to set up an e-globalization solution for someone. Even if customers have their own glossaries it can be done fairly quickly. For other RichLink applications on sites that are set up well with a decent search engine and taxonomy, we can basically implement an out-of-the-box solution. But, if we really want to go in and evaluate the content and the layers of information, it does take some planning and solid editorial work. …