Real time Demo 2007 (part 4)
by Josh Bernoff
Home stretch time. 18 more companies ... selected reviews follow.
Boorah (2:08pm) -- Personalized restaurant guide. Aggregates restaurant reviews from across the Web, then synthesizes a rating and pulls out a few of the best comments into a compilation review. If you believe in the wisdom of crowds for restaurant reviews, this site is for you. (Only in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York so far . . . more markets coming later this year.) Also includes a mashup map from Google maps. This is part of a trend of companies trying to go above the whole Net experience -- the Google News for restaurant reviews, you might say.
Me.dium (2:28pm) -- "Reveals the hidden world of people and activity behind your browser." Open a window to see other me.dium users when visiting a site -- your friends and others. Then can start a discussion with those other visitors. This is one of those network ideas that only works when it hits a critical mass. Doesn't seem compelling enough to draw people into this world.
CircleUp (2:34) -- I like this idea since it solves a problem we all have (and so many of the ideas here don't). Namely -- you need to communicate with a group, like a little league team, a bunch of friends traveling, a volunteer organization -- and assemble answers to questions, address lists, stuff like that. Sort of like eVite for every question you might have of your group. We all have deal with sending out these sorts of emails and getting a blizzard of uncoordinated responses back, so this just makes sense. There's more to it than this, maps, pictures, etc -- that leads me to believe they're doing this right, and going to get better.
Nexo (2:40pm) -- "Myspace for groups." At this point the number of demos has become mind-numbing -- and yet there clearly is a need for this. Add feeds, pictures, polls, shared calendars, etc. to a site for your group, all of whom can collaboratively build the site. Integrates with email so group can keep in touch with what's happening.
DesignIn (2:56pm) -- Web-based design and product selections for remodeling. If you've ever done a remodel, you know how useful it would be to have a tool like this to get started. The quick drawing is plus, as are the ability to drop in and link to real products (sinks, stoves, etc.). The plan to add social aspects so you can see layouts used by other users in the system. Looks promising, may not be quite ripe yet.
My-Currency.com (3:02pm) -- Social predictions for real estate. To leverage the wisdom of the crowd you need a crowd. I think the crowd for this site is now on Zillow. And it's not clear how they can protect the site against gaming from, for example, people who want to drive prices down.
Aggregate knowledge (3:16pm) -- While you're browsing, take advantage of the browsing patterns of other people who've visited the same site. (Their "discovery window" was part of overstock.com.) On editorial sites, "user generated editorial" provides links to sites viewed by others who were visiting a news article (in use at washingtonpost.com). Can they make this available to individual users, not just sites?
Zoominfo PowerSearch 2007 (3:25pm) -- Semantic search -- info on companies and people. This engine is the search that a salesperson needs, surfacing the information businesspeople need to evalauate companies and people. Speaking as a researcher, I need this. Way better than the information in our company database.
Trailfire (3:29pm) -- Like del.icio.us for chains of pages. Mark page, highlight to a reader what's important on a page -- the specific point on the page. Then add another mark by marking another page with the same name. (Needs to download browser extension.) Others can discover -- the trail guides you to what others have discovered on the Web. You can rate others' trails. Trails even show up in google searches. I think this is a worthy next step beyond del.icio.us -- I've often wanted to mark specific points on the page and links to other pages.
Helium (3:40pm) -- A user-generated news site, and a good one. As a user generated news site, it's similar to what you see on agoravox.fr or gather.com. The difference here is that contributors generate a bunch of articles on the same topic. Visitors who do ratings see a pair of simliar articles and pick the one they like the best -- which causes the best articles to bubble to the top. Now they are adding debate on issues like "Should cellphone use in cars be banned?" Maybe Web dialogue won't just be shouting any more. Contributors with highly rated articles get paid. Does this have the potential to displace real content sites created by professional writers? Well, yes. And unlike Wikipedia, it's not a collaborative effort, it's competitive -- a different dynamic, better in some cases. Try it.
Textdigger (3:48) -- A new search engine that's supposed to be better than Google. Uses semantic knowledge of search tems to reorder Google search results. You can look under the hood to see how the semantic search is working. (You need a passcode to try it out for now.) Like blinkx, clearly an acquisition candidate for one of the big boys.
blinkx (3:58) -- I've talked to these guys a lot since I started writing about how video search stinks. Now they are releasing blinkx it. Post some code into a blog or any other site -- pops up video that matches the text in the site (a la Google AdSense). A quick way to get video into your site, would be better if the video search was better.
What a show! Look for these companies to change the way people interact. See you in the Groundswell.