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Oracle, CMP to launch search engine

With the help of Oracle, CMP Publications is set to launch an online service that will merge sophisticated searching capabilities with editorial content.

With the help of technology from database vendor Oracle, CMP Publications is set to launch an online service that will merge sophisticated searching capabilities with editorial content, creating something along the lines of a TV Guide for the Web.

CMP's project isn't the only search service on the horizon. Oracle is mulling plans to launch its own search engine later this year, independent of CMP, and HotWired is also set to launch a search engine affiliated with the company's Web site, according to sources.

Currently under development at San Francisco headquarters under the code name of Gulliver, the new CMP service will borrow the name of an existing CMP publication and Web site, NetGuide. Gulliver, however, will significantly revamp its editorial content when the new site launches this summer. The new site will serve as a customized guide to the Web, with a list of online events and sites related to a user's personal interests, as well as a database of Web site reviews, sources said.

The heart of NetGuide database will be a sophisticated Oracle technology called ConText. More than a straightforward search engine, ConText - which has been in the Oracle product family for the past few years - is a semantic and syntactic analysis tool that can interpret document content to help users more easily locate Web information. For example, a user will be able the search for Internet information related to Russian politics and retrieve all relevant documents, even if those words Russian or politics aren't actually found in the documents.

CMP is also developing a software applet that will work with existing browsers as a kind of Internet remote control, according to sources. CMP officials could not be reached for comment.

In addition to helping CMP launch the new NetGuide, Oracle is planning to launch its own search engine later this year that will showcase the ConText technology, just as Digital Equipment's AltaVista showcases the DEC Alpha processor, sources said.

HotWired, meanwhile, is also developing its own search engine in conjunction with an unnamed technology partner. Although company officials could not be reached for comment, the company has registered the domain name hotSEARCH.COM.