AOL Gets Some Semantics With Its Huffington Post Acquisition

By   /  February 8, 2011  /  No Comments

What got a bit lost in the news about AOL’s purchase of the Huffington Post was that the deal also gets the Internet content provider some more semantic technology (the company’s past acquisitions include social/semantic matching Q-and-A platform Yedda, for example). In addition to The Huffington Post having been an early adopter of Thomson Reuters Open Calais semantic web service to identify and extract entities, facts and events for localized content initiatives, the site last year acquired Adaptive Semantics and its JuLiA platform for helping publishers discover the leaders in their social graph.

That acquisition now could bear fruit for AOL in influencing community engagement across a whole lot more web sites. AOL properties include community-specific sites such as the Patch network of localized news and events information, the DailyFinance business and investment news site, Autoblog, and many more.

Huff bought the start-up after it had made a minority investment in Adaptive Semantics and was using its machine learning and NLP technology to review and analyze comments as part of its moderation workflow. With HuffPost comments hitting millions per month last year, it acquired Adaptive Semantics and began putting the technology to even greater use for its expert discovery possibilities. The technology has served as one mechanism to help analyze data around users’ content submissions to help Huff discover and reward readers. The HuffPost Badges give users different levels of recognition for commenting, for linking up with their Facebook or Twitter accounts, and for the wealth of connections they have with friends and followers.

In a release announcing the deal, which is expected to close in the spring, the firms said that combining AOL’s infrastructure and scale “with the Huffington Post’s pioneering approach to news and innovative community-building among a broad and sophisticated audience will mark a seminal moment in the evolution of digital journalism and online engagement.”

Jeff Revesz, one of Adaptive Semantics’ co-founders who took on the title of director of social news at the Huffington Post, told us in an email that right now he can’t say yet what plans AOL has for JuLiA, as the news was still being absorbed by most of the company’s employees.

AOL notes on its site that “developing a global content platform that will empower production of world-class differentiated content to consumers at scale” is one of its goals, and certainly semantic technology easily has a role to play there, as it does in mining those consumers’ opinions and thoughts about such content, and making their input count.

Stay tuned.

About the author

Jennifer Zaino is a New York-based freelance writer specializing in business and technology journalism. She has been an executive editor at leading technology publications, including InformationWeek, where she spearheaded an award-winning news section, and Network Computing, where she helped develop online content strategies including review exclusives and analyst reports. Her freelance credentials include being a regular contributor of original content to The Semantic Web Blog; acting as a contributing writer to RFID Journal; and serving as executive editor at the Smart Architect Smart Enterprise Exchange group. Her work also has appeared in publications and on web sites including EdTech (K-12 and Higher Ed), Ingram Micro Channel Advisor, The CMO Site, and Federal Computer Week.

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