10 New Ways to Discover What You Need on the Web
Primal Fusion: Are You Ready for Thought Networking?
Presenters at technology conferences love to coin new buzzwords--and Primal Fusion's contribution is "thought networking." What does it mean? Here's what I could piece together.
You go to Primal Fusion (the alpha service launched today) and it asks you what you're interested in. You give it a topic like Social Networking and it presents a tag cloud of semantically related concepts, things like reputation management or sharing. You choose from among those subconcepts the ones you're most interested in learning about and the sources of information you want to tap, like Wikipedia, Yahoo News, and Flickr.
You can then have Primal Fusion build a custom Web site with links to all the information it has found on the concepts you're interested in. Developers say they're working on functionality that will let you automatically create a document with the same information or an RSS feed.
Evri: Pop-ups That You Want?
Evri is a service aimed at finding content related to whatever content you're already reading. It powers features on sites like WashingtonPost.com that suggests other stories on the subject you're currently reading about.
You can also go to Evri's site and type in the name of a person, product, or thing you're interested in, and--if the noun is one that's in what seems to be a fairly limited database--Evri will show you a page with information sorted by type: a snippet of the Wikipedia entry in one corner, news stories in another section, and slider windows with related pictures and videos. You can also explore related concepts through an interesting visual interface.
Not enough? You can have Evri everywhere you go by loading it's browser toolbar. It will highlight every term on the page you're viewing for which Evri has information. Hover over the word and Evri pops up a box with related news stories, connections, images and videos.
I haven't spent much time with the toolbar, but even with Evri's limited database, it feels like there's too much highlighting going on on the page. I'd stick to Evri's Web site instead.
How Simple: Simply Too Much
Have you ever wanted to have 35 browser windows open on your screen at once? Neither have I, which is why I wasn't overly impressed with How Simple.
The system aggregates results from a number of search engines and instead of just showing you a list of hyperlinks along with snippets of information from each link, it opens each of the sites so that you can look at as many as 35 of them at a time--live.
I haven't been able to play with this capability (the site is in private beta), but unless you have a really large display, lightning-fast connection, and very good eyes, How Simple may be Too Much Information.
Kutano: Comment Anywhere
It sometimes seems that the companies that most need to hear your gripes are the ones that don't have any system for commenting on their site. Kutano is a browser add-on that lets you comment anywhere, even if the site has no user forums.
Kutano's developers played up the idea that the company you're commenting on can't edit the posts, since they live in a small window to the side of the one you're looking at. But you can see comments by other Kutano users. And you don't have to limit your comments only to commercial sites. You can, as one Kutano rep pointed out, comment on your ex-boyfriend's Facebook page without him being able to do anything about the post.
So is Kutano the ultimate expression of free speech or a libel suit waiting to happen? It could be both, but unless the service can attract a critical mass of users, it may end up being more of a ghost town.