Fernando calls me on saying that the NYT article on NLS was 'a nice little article.' To be honest, my intention was to indicate that it was nice that there was an article. Fernando writes clearly about what the article could have been about, though I fear that his expectations for the intersection between journalists, their audience and this particular subject may be to high.
The fundamental question about NLS is whether the potential gains from a deeper analysis of queries and indexed documents are greater than the losses from getting the analysis wrong.
I actually disagree with this as being the right question. I see NLP as being a strong contender for changing the utility of the web, and our interfaces into it (a.k.a. search engines) from the discover of documents to the discovery of knowledge and information. Yes, that will be backed by documents, but they won't be the primary 'result'. For example, when I ask 'who invented the elevator?' I don't mean 'find me documents that, with a high probability, contain text that will answer the question: who invented the elevator?'. I really mean who invented the elevator?
NLS has the potential to come back with the result: Elisha Graves Otis.
(I use this example arbitrarily and am aware that searching with this question as the query will give you snippets with the answer.)
Ok - now allow me to complain about something else. I posted about the NYT article and Fernando, I assume, read my post and wrote his. I have now written a follow up and we have all linked to each other nicely. However, consider how annoying it is to follow this 'conversation.' Fernando could have left a comment on my post. I could have left a comment on his (though he actually has them turned off). The fact that there are multiple ways for this discussion to flow and there are no integrated mechanisms for readers (or writers) to tune in to the discussion makes a lie of the whole 'conversations in the blogosphere' propostion. It's been a problem for a long time and is an element of a theme which I think will be important next year - the efficiency of social media. I'm going to stop here, before this becomes more than a footnote - I'll post later on this topic.