Author: Mark Watson
Aimed at: Web developers using Ruby
Pros: Practical overview of current hot topics
Cons: Doesn't go deep enough into topics
Reviewed by: Mike James
Intelligence seems to be popular at the moment and especially so when applied to ideas such as "Web 3.0".
This book deals with four major topics mostly using Ruby as the example code. The first part is mainly about text and natural language processing, The second deals with the semantic web. The third covers a collection of topics related to search and object relational mapping. The final part looks at the Map Reduce method of implementing parallel processing and at Hadoop in particular.
There are better books on each of the topics if you already know you want to specialize in, so the main function of this book is as an overview. However as an overview it has one big problem - solutions tend to be pulled out of the hat by using custom downloaded code. You can even use Amazon Machine Images (AMIs) to run the examples.
This often makes it difficult to see what facilities are standards based and exactly what is being supplied as custom code. The author often refers to a class and you are left wondering where it has come from - the code provided or is it part of the library being explored? The explanations of theory are also very sketchy and don't go very deep. This is mostly forgivable in the sense that few sophisticated techniques are used and when they are the details are deemed unimportant compared to implementation.You also don't get a clear idea of what the bigger picture is. There is no inspirational overview that makes you think about what you could use all these ideas for. There are also large chunks of the book that read like a cookbook moving from small problem to the next small problem.
If you are keen on building intelligent web applications then this is a useful extra book to add to your library but make sure you have looked at Algorithms of the Intelligent Web or Collective Intelligence in Action first.