Stephen E. Arnold: Good-Bye (Corrupt) Google, Hello (Honest)

Advanced Cyber/IO, IO Tools
Stephen E. Arnold
Stephen E. Arnold

Seeing What Is in a Laundry List of Search Results

In late October I will be delivering a webinar version of my lecture “What to Do When Google Doesn’t Answer Your Question.” The webinar is at this time not open to the public. My topic is that free Web search engines offer useful information. Most people have neither the time nor tools to pinpoint the item which provides significant insight or a useful fact; for example, a relationship between two people or a phone number of a person associated with a subject like the Muslim Brotherhood.

You may be one of the hundreds of millions of Bing or Google searchers who uses the results lists as they are presented. I have no desire to argue with anyone about relevance, precision, and recall. The reason is that modern technology makes ad-supported search results the Great Destroyer of objective information retrieval measures. In short, precision and recall are dead. Too bad. I miss them. Nevertheless, useful information is in the public and open source indexes. The problem is finding useful information.

One of the topics in the 2.5 hour lecture at the ISS World Conference for intelligence and law enforcement professionals elicited quite a bit of post-presentation discussion. The interest in the topic fueled the upcoming webinar.

I want to highlight one service I described at ISS World and will touch upon in the webinar in late October 2013.

The system is, a service of Sprylogics. Sprylogics is a Canadian outfit originally set up by a former military officer. To follow along with this example, point your browser to

Here are the steps I followed on October 8, 2013. Because content in public Web indexes changes, your results will differ. Also, is a metasearch engine. The system sends a query to a public Web index and then processes the results. The Sprylogics’ technology extracts entities, performs relationship analyses, and formats results in a laundry list and graphic reports. Remember, at this time is available without charge.

Here’s what I just did via the system:

I ran a query on Google for Huma Abedin, a public official’s wife. The results list was pretty standard stuff. There were links to public profile pages, images, and general news stories. I wanted to get a sense for what was in the first page of Google hits.

I then entered the query Huma Abedin without quotes and scan the results list. The system outputs some hits to documents that the system has identified as significant. In general, I find these useful. The results list is presented with a number of entities identified. On the right hand side of the display, presents a list of the top linked entities. Below the listing of entities is the quite useful relationship map diagrams.

A close up of the first relationship map looks like this

The way I use is to scan the results list for something interesting. On the day I ran this sample query (October 8, 2013), a story on the first page of the results list for the query Huma Abedin pointed to a story called “The Dark Muslim Brotherhood World of Huma Abedin.” I found the story interesting, and I did not know anything about the “dark” Muslim Brotherhood.

I then ran a new query on I looked up the name of Huma Abedin’s mother and then ran this query on “Saleha Mahmood Abedin Muslim Brotherhood.

The result list produced a number of interesting articles. The most useful output of the system was the relationship map. Here’s a snippet of the large display available without charge: