In November 2007, we listed 10 Semantic apps to watch and yesterday we published an update on what each had achieved over the past year. All of them are still alive and well – a couple are thriving, some are experimenting and a few are still finding their way.
Now we’re going to list 10 more Semantic apps to watch. These are all apps that have gotten onto our radar over 2008. We’ve reviewed all but one of them, so click through to the individual reviews for more detail. It should go without saying, but this is by no means an exhaustive list – so if we haven’t mentioned your favorite, please add it in the comments.
BooRah is a restaurant review site that we first reviewed earlier this year. One of BooRah’s most interesting aspects is that it uses semantic analysis and natural language processing to aggregate reviews from food blogs. Because of this, BooRah can recognize praise and criticism in these reviews and then rates restaurants accordingly. BooRah also gathers reviews from Citysearch, Tripadvisor and other large review sites.
BooRah also announced last month the availability of an API that will allow other web sites and businesses to offer online reviews and ratings from BooRah to their customers. The API will surface most of BooRah’s data about a given restaurant, including ratings, menus, discounts, and coupons.
Swotti is a semantic search engine that aggregates opinions about products to help you make purchasing decisions. We reviewed the product back in March. Swotti aggregates opinions about products from product review sites, forums and discussion boards, web sites and blogs, and then categorizes those reviews as to what feature or aspect of the product is being reviewed, tagging it accordingly, and then rating the review on as positive or negative.
Earlier this month we wrote about the recent improvement in Dapper MashupAds, a product we first spotted over a year ago. The idea is that publishers can tell Dapper: this is the place on my web page where the title of a movie will appear, now serve up a banner ad that’s related to whatever movie this page happens to be about. That could be movies, books, travel destinations – anything. We remarked that the UI for this has grown much more sophisticated in the past year.
How this works: in the back end, Dapper will be analyzing the fields that publishers identify and will apply a layer of semantic classification on top of them. The company believes that its new ad network will provide monetary incentive for publishers to have their websites marked up semantically. Dapper also has a product called Semantify, for SEO – see our review of that.
For more on Semantic advertising, see our write-up of a panel on this topic from the Web 3.0 Conference.
Inform.com analyzes content from online publishers and inserts links from a publisher’s own content archives, affiliated sites, or the web at large, to augment content being published. We reviewed it in January, when at the time the company had more than 100 clients – including CNN.com, WashingtonPost.com and the Economist.
Inform says its technology determines the semantic meaning of key words in millions of news stories around the web every day in order to recommend related content. The theory is that by automating the process of relevant link discovery and inclusion, Inform can easily add substantial value to a publisher’s content. Inform also builds out automatic topic pages, something you can see around WashingtonPost and CNN.com.
We have met our share of secretive startups over the years, but few have been as secretive about their plans as Siri, which was founded in December 2007 and did not even have an official name until October this year. Siri was spun out of SRI International and its core technology is based on the highly ambitious CALO artificial intelligence project.
In our October post on Siri, we discovered that Siri is working on a “personalized assistant that learns.” We expect Siri to have a strong information management aspect, combined with some novel interface ideas. Based on our discussion with founders Dag Kittlaus and Adam Cheyer in October, we think that there will be a strong mobile aspect to Siri’s product and at least some emphasis on location awareness. Siri plans to launch in the first half of 2009.
Evri is a Paul Allen (of Microsoft fame) backed semantic search engine that launched into a limited beta in June. Evri is a search engine, though it adds a very sophisticated semantic layer on top of its results that emphasizes the relationships between different search terms. It especially prides itself for having developed a system that can distinguish between grammatical objects such subjects, verbs, and objects to create these connections. You can check out a tour of Evri here.
Semantic search startup UpTake (formerly Kango) aims to make the process of booking travel online easier. In our review in May, we explained that UpTake is a vertical search engine that has assembled what it says is the largest database of US hotels and activities – over 400,000 of them – from more than 1,000 different travel sites. Using a top-down approach, UpTake looks at its database of over 20 million reviews, opinions, and descriptions of hotels and activities in the US and semantically extracts information about those destinations.
Imindi is essentially a mind mapping tool, although it markets itself as a “Thought Engine”. Imindi was recommended to us in the comments to our previous post by Yihong Ding, who called it “an untraditional Semantic Web service”. Yihong said that traditionally Semantic Web services employ machines to understand humans, however Imindi’s approach is to encourage humans to better understand each other via machines.
Imindi has met with a fair amount of skepticism so far – and indeed it appears to be reaching big with its AI associations. However we think it’s worth watching, if for no other reason than to see if it can live up to the description on its About page: “By capturing the free form associations of user’s logic and intuition, IMINDI is building a global mind index which is an entirely new resource for building collective intelligence and leveraging human creativity and subjectivity on the web.”
See also: Thinkbase: Mapping the World’s Brain
We’ve all been there. You started reading something on the Web, saw something interesting in the article, searched for it, wound up somewhere else, and after about 12 hops you’ve forgotten exactly what it was you were looking for. If only there were some way to select that topic midstream and have the information automagically appear for you, without disrupting your workflow or sending you traipsing off into the wilds of the Web.
If that sounds familiar, you may need a shot of Juice, a new Firefox 3 add-in currently in public beta from Linkool Labs, that makes researching Web content as easy as click-and-drag. In our review of Juice, we concluded that it avoids some of the more traditional stumbling blocks of Semantic apps by taking a very top-down approach focused on a distinct data set.
Faviki is a new social bookmarking tool which we reviewed back in May. It offers something that services like Ma.gnolia, del.icio.us and Diigo do not – semantic tagging capabilities. What this means is that instead of having users haphazardly entering in tags to describe the links they save, Faviki will suggest tags to be used instead. However, unlike other services, Faviki’s suggestions don’t just come from a community of users and their tagging history, but from structured information extracted straight out of the Wikipedia database.
Because Faviki uses structured tagging, there is more that can be learned about a particular tag, its properties, and its connections to other tags. The system will automatically know what tags belong together and how they relate to others.
The Semantic Web continues to inch closer to reality, by being used in products such as BooRah, Inform.com and Juice. Let us know your thoughts on the above 10 products, and of course any that we missed this time round.