Sherlock vs. Watson

Kimbro Staken has been exploring how Apple's new Sherlock 3 works:

In every sense of the word this is a hack since Apple hasn't released the Sherlock SDK yet. The main problem is altering the UI elements. Without the SDK you can't open the nib files in Interface Builder so I used the AppleCare channel UI and hacked it with a hex editor to change some of the strings. The scripts are easy once you battle through the weird conglomeration of Javascript and XQuery that they are using. [ Bright Eyed Mister Zen ]

XQuery? Does this mean that the regex-based screenscraping that Watson does is less important to Sherlock 3, and that stable XML APIs are more available to it? If so, has Apple convinced the various websites (e.g. Moviefone) to offer such APIs privately for its use?

Inquiring minds want to know. Unfortunately, Apple has yanked the documentation -- stung, apparently, by reaction to its shabby treatment of Karelia .

It's too bad that things have played out this way, because the "web services for the rest of us" mantra has a lot of resonance. Last week in DC I spent some time hanging around with a friend, Rich Kilmer. He was blown away by the fact that Sherlock 3 sniffed out his zip code from Jaguar's address book, and immediately showed him local theaters. "Now I'll walk downstairs to use my Mac to find movies," Rich says, "because it's faster than going to the Web from Win XP." (I had the same experience this weekend, when I fired up my shiny new PowerBook G4 -- a review unit that I'll have a hard time letting go of.) This stuff isn't rocket science, and that's the point. The Web services industry should pay careful attention to things like Watson/Sherlock. People keep asking: "How can we monetize Web services?" Answer: create millions of customers.

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