julieThe Orgwide office has been abuzz lately. That’s not to say that there’s normally a lack of buzzes in the office … quite the contrary. In fact, if one were to complete a comparative “buzz study” across every professional organization in the United States, I’d be willing to bet Orgwide would fall into the “above average” category. But lately, the frequency and volume of those buzzes has increased significantly. But why? We’re excited, you see, because we’ve brought aboard a most buzz-worthy new team member: Dr. Julie Scherzinger. Along with her charming and downright friendly disposition, Dr. Scherzinger brings to the table a mountain of technological skills and experience, including serving as Chief Technology Officer for both Expert System and Teradata, Inc. Armed with her expertise in the fields of semantic technology, artificial intelligence, and computational linguistics (just to name a few), Dr. Scherzinger will add immediate value to a variety of Orgwide projects. 

We’ve tracked down Dr. Scherzinger to ask her the hard hitting questions you’ve come to expect from the crack team of bloggers at Orgwide. So grab your popcorn and prepare yourself, because this ain’t no puff piece.  

•  Our audience always likes to know the vital stats of our team members, so with that in mind … what’s your current heart rate?

70bpm, a little higher than normal, I guess I’m a little nervous about this interview…

•  When you’re not solving extraordinarily complex problems involving computational linguistics and technology, what occupies your mind?

My two kids and nine dogs occupy my mind! I train and show dogs. Seven of those nine dogs are Basenjis (non-barking dogs from Africa). The other two are miniature dachshunds (which more than make up for the lack of barking from the Basenjis).

•  Over the course of your career, you’ve had extensive experience working for large international software corporations such as Autonomy, Inc. as well as working with the U.S. Government. Tell us about your expectations for working with a smaller firm like Orgwide. What kind of unique challenges or opportunities do you think that will present?

Well, when I started working for Autonomy, Inc., I was employee number 19. I was hired to help them on the federal team. There was a federal sales person and I was the federal tech person—together we made up the entire “federal group.” I loved the small company environment. It was less like “your job is x, now go do it” and more of an atmosphere where you just did what needed to be done. I love that smaller organizations are more team oriented. Conversely, with some of the bigger organizations I’ve dealt with, it’s like the one hand not knowing what the other is doing. For example, I once witnessed a large company that ended up competing against itself on the same contract. Departments were so disconnected that they didn’t even realize they were going for the same project. 

The atmosphere of a smaller company is what I prefer—I like being part of a team where you know each other. It’s like being in a small college versus a big university. In a large university, you’re a social security number. In a small college, you have dinner with the faculty. They know you and your name. I like that. I like to know my colleagues. I like the personality and the personal nature of a smaller organization.

•  You’ve had the benefit of participating in the rapid growth and evolution of the computer and information sciences field throughout a very distinguished career. Based on what you’ve learned over the years, are there any big advances or changes you see on the horizon, particularly with respect to web-based learning and digitally-aided communication in general?

What I envision will happen - the world according to Julie - because data organizations are dealing with tremendous amounts of data, which they have to store and back up, not to mention active redundancy for 24/7 quick access … there’s going to have to be a faster and smarter way to provide backups.  And throwing more hardware at the problem is a temporary solution - it too will hit a wall.  See, the more hardware we use, the more electricity we use … some organizations are already running into problems with the amount of power they’re consuming. In the future, you will see novel solutions for replicating your data; how it is being replicated, techniques for compression, etc.  Cloud based storage is being defined and coming into its own, which is enabling us to do more, to bring the computing to the data, versus the data to the computing.  But it seems technology goes through cycles. Phones for example. The first mobile phones were big - they came with a small suitcase!  Then it was almost a competition with your friends to see who could get the smallest mobile phone.  But then we wanted more capability, and this needed a larger screen, so the phones started getting bigger.  You see these cycles that we all go through … history ends up repeating itself even in the world of technology.

As far as web-based learning and digitally-aided communication, clearly tablets and phones are leading us into our future.  And all of the data we’re creating needs to be accessible via these devices. For example, think about people in the field, military personnel for example. They need a way to communicate that is small and lightweight. It has to be practical and they have to be kept safe. For example, people that are deployed out in the desert, they need a practical way to communicate during sandstorms. People on a ship have to have tools that can be protected from the elements and seawater. It is essential to be able to transmit AND protect info and data according to the environment you’re in.

 I see you’re an Ohio State Buckeye. Many of our readers will be sorry to hear that. What do you have to say in your defense?

Not everyone can have the honor of being a Buckeye, I understand. I was born at  University Hospital, on the OSU campus, in Columbus. It was inevitable. All I can say is "O-H …" (editor’s note: anyone responding with “I-O” will be immediately removed from the distribution list.)

•  Previous roles you’ve held have focused on “semantic technology.” For those of us who are not technological geniuses, could you describe what semantic technology is, how it differs from traditional “information technology,” and what sort of solutions it presents?  Most importantly, are we any closer to be able to predict earthquakes and is there any real hope for people living in California?

Well, there are actually semantics within the semantic technology field. I work with the semantics of language. In general, if you were to compare semantic technology to a basic search engine, there are some fundamental differences. A search engine looks at a keyword as just a sequence of letters. If I search for “tank” … it will pull up tank tops, fish tanks, army tanks, and so forth. Semantic technology enables us to understand searches and refine them so they return what the user really wants. It understands what category your search would fall into; whereas the old search engines just look for characters … they don’t care about meaning. Any word in the English language with more than one meaning is considered “ambiguous.” A "table" can be a chart or where you eat your dinner.  A "staple" can be a little metal item to connect papers, or a main or important element.  There are so many meanings for words and it all depends on context. Context is the key. As humans, we pick up on context … but for a computer reading characters, it is obviously much more difficult. Semantic technology can interpret language similar to human.

Now as far as computers predicting earthquakes is concerned, I’ll say this: if there are documents out there that a semantic platform could understand that would assist those scientists, it might happen .. .but I doubt it. I’d still move out of California.

•  I see you’ve been granted a variety of security clearances throughout your career, including one with the Department of Justice. Now, this is just between the two of us … but I’ve got a mountain of unpaid parking tickets from college. Any chance you can make those disappear?

I couldn’t do that with a clear conscience. I cannot tell a lie. It’s part of my clearance.

Thanks again to Dr. Scherzinger for sharing just a fraction of her story with us. We will all agree that there are new and exciting things on the horizon for Orgwide, and we are ecstatic to welcome Dr. Julie Scherzinger to the team! We would love to hear any additional questions or thoughts for Dr. Scherzinger, so please CLICK HERE to contact us. Until then, remember to take care of the customer, take care of each other, and take care of yourself!

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