This is it, folks. The homestretch. It becomes increasingly difficult for demonstrators as the afternoon goes on. Attendees tend to start disappearing for their flights home. And by the time you hit company 65 or 66, if you’re still in your seat, you are likely feeling a bit numb. But the companies are ready, I’m ready, so let’s go!
Launching initially doing local restaurant search in 3 markets. Uses semantic analysis and natural language processing to develop star ratings from user reviews on blogs and other sites. Slick AJAX interface.
My Take: Has potential. Obviously a lot of it comes down to how accurate the analysis is and how comprehensive the spidering may be.
Aimed at helping business travelers set up serendipitous meetings. It claims to securely compare travel itineraries to alert you when people you know will be in the same place at the same time. Outlook contact data is uploaded to the web site. It appears that it requires manual entry of trips, however.
My Take: This would have greater potential if calendar data could somehow sync up more cleanly. Unfortunately, Outlook doesn’t track location data uniformly, so this would be difficult. Adoption is likely to be very slow if each itinerary must be entered manually.
Free online collaboration tool. Chris Shipley described it in her intro as a “next generation wiki.” In watching the demo, I think that’s the best way to describe it, too. It offers greater customization and more visual effects than the wiki solutions I have seen. Enables integration of a wide array of content types, including spreadsheets, charts, graphics, drawings, diagrams, etc. It also permits aggregation of feeds and collaborative editing.
My Take: Feels like a natural evolution in the wiki game. The fact that they use terminology familiar to most people (notebook-centric) rather than scary terms like wiki and RSS shows that they get it and are interested in moving beyond the geek crowd. This could make my Best of Demo list as one of the best and most practical offerings I have seen here this week.
Attempts to create connections among users based on what they are viewing online. Software is a browser sidebar. Facilitates chatting between readers. Suggests interesting content.
My Take: I see this as something that might appeal to the techie and blogger crowd, but I have a hard time seeing it gain mass appeal.
Another group communication solution, this one focused more on text communication. Will tally results and allow members of a group to see each other’s answers (if so permitted by the organizer). Communication can be conducted by email or IM.
My Take: A bunch of companies seem interested in improving group communication. Someone will need to gain traction in this space and become the leader of the pack.
One of the more entertaining demos of the conference. The theme was “Lindsay Lohan’s Rehab Support Group.” In any event, this could be best described as the next generation of Yaho! Groups — or put another way, what Yahoo! Groups ought to be. Very simple and fairly flexible group site creation tool that enables group discussion and information sharing. Polls, email contact, etc.
My Take: A winner and a candidate for my Best of Demo list.
An “event-discovery service.” Recommends events based on your profile and friends. Can also take recommendations from “trusted” celebrity recommenders. Integrates with existing calendar programs including Outlook and Google Calendar. Microsoft featuring it as a option for the Windows Vista calendar. Can get recommendations via SMS.
My Take: There are a number of startups in this space. It’s going to be a traction game to see who survives. The Microsoft deal should help.
Collaborative space planning and design application. Pulls data from manufacturers sites to help in the design effort. Creates designs that look like typical blueprints on screen. Can share the design with designer, contractor, etc.
My Take: Seemed like a pretty slick application and I can see where it would have real-world value.
Reputation system that will focus first on the real estate market and then expand from there. Purports to use “wisdom of the crowds” and “prediction markets” to assess real estate prices. People predict home sales prices and their accuracy is tracked over time. Aggregated data then seeks to advise home buyers and sellers on pricing.
My Take: The trick will be getting enough people to make predictions to make this valuable.
Seeks to make content sharing easier. Creates a browser button to enable sharing without having to detour to an email application. Integrates with existing contact lists in email and IM. Can send to people on multiple platforms simultaneously. Supports text messaging as well. Example showed sharing a photo with a group of people via all the different methods.
My Take: Looks pretty easy to use. People who share a lot of content would likely benefit from this.
Performs behavioral analysis in order to help retail and content sites suggest related products and content. Examples shown are Overstock.com’s “People who bought this also bought that” window and the Washington Post’s related articles window that drives users to content not related by terms, but by behavior.
My Take: Automated behavioral analysis for content recommendation is a key component, in my mind, of the future of the Internet. Based solely on their demo, these guys seem to get it and appear to be offering a useful product.
A semantic search engine that automatically creates company and individual profiles from web crawling. Pulls a lot of data together in one place based on search alone. Powerful tool for anyone seeking business intelligence for sales, marketing, bizdev, or related tasks.
My Take: Accuracy will be key here, but the examples shown were impressive. Since I’m an information junky and this has always been an area of interest to me, these guys have an edge for a Best of Demo award when I compile that list after the show.
Using a browser plugin, users can annotate pages with “marks” and “trails” that others can follow. Basically it seems to be the ability to annotate pages and mark contextual bookmarks. Users rate existing trails to help the most useful ones bubble to the top.
My Take: Too geeky to achieve significant penetration.
A “lightweight peer to peer app” that allows document sharing inside and outside of a company. Allows searching and shared access for email, documents, and other data.&nbs
p;Caches documents so file
s can be accessed even when the host computer is offline. Tagging is supported. Can specify who can access which documents.
My Take: This will make management and IT skittish in many companies, I would think. Even with the ability to tailor who has access to which documents, decentralizing this would seem to open major security concerns, especially for public companies.
Provides a competitive writing environment where individuals come to offer articles on various subjects. Readers rate the content so that the best writers end up being rewarded financially. Content can be straight up information or debates. Pro/con arguments can take place to encourage high-level debate. Aims to get rid of ad hominem and rhetoric-laden commentary — or worse, juvenile putdowns — that tend to permeate other debate oriented sites. Claims their rating system is democratic and ungameable.
My Take: It will be a challenge, but if it works it would be revolutionary. It opens up the possibility of creating higher-quality content than what one can find on wikipedia for any controversial subject.
Attempts to discern context for search words to deliver more relevant results. For instance, tries to understand when you type “Ford” whether you are seeking information on the car, the former President, or something else. Claims to learn from your past behavior what you are likely to want in the future. Example search was “hotel with a view of the Golden Gate bridge.” Processes related words, synonyms, and other data to improve results.
My Take: There is still a long way to go in improving search and these guys seem to be on to something. It will be interesting to see how the results hold up on other searches.
Attempts to fight sploggers and others who would plagiarize web content. A product aimed at bloggers. You register your blog and it monitors for sites that seem to be stealing the content. Tries to pierce sites that use synonyms or other methods to mask plagiarize. Enables abuse complaints to be sent. Has an API to provide a plagiarism blacklist. It will be interesting to see if anyone tries to abuse the blacklist structure to flag blogs that they don’t like rather than ones that are truly plagiarizing.
My Take: Seems simple enough to use and free for bloggers to track one blog, so I imagine it will get some decent adoption. Will be interesting to see where the company goes in the future, since this doesn’t feel to me like a business in its own right.
These guys got stuck with the last slot of the conference, but they worked some humor into the presentation to keep people awake. Today’s announcement was that they are now offering a widget to enable bloggers and other site owners to integrate video search on their own sites to find related video. A “Blinkx.it” logo appears at the end of blog posts and when clicked a little AJAX gizmo pops up with related video clips being shown.
My Take: Blinkx may be a good video search engine, but this feature announcement seemed underwhelming to me.