Sites I’m Loving This Week

I’ve fallen off the blog hamster wheel in recent weeks, due to travel and screening companies for DEMOfall. My calendar gets a bit ridiculous around the same time twice a year, as I spend entire days on the phone hearing about new companies. Mind you, I’m not complaining. Even when some days morph into one continuous conference call, it’s still one of the best jobs around. Paradoxically, all this activity precludes my favorite job: telling everyone about the new toys I’m using. So if you don’t mind a laundry list, here’s what’s been on my radar lately.

**Zemanta. I love this product. I spoke with the company several weeks ago, then ran into Andraz Tori, CTO and Co-founder, at SemTech in San Jose. On both occasions, I gave honest feedback on hiccups I see within the system but also gave ample praise. I try out hundreds of products in a month and only rarely do I integrate one into my daily life. Zemanta stuck from day one. Its content recommendations hit far more than they miss and has without a doubt made blogging quicker and easier for me. I want the linking recommendations to be smarter at times but agree with the company that linking is harder to conquer than article recommendations. (For instance, it’s currently offering up a link for “hamster wheel.” Don’t think I’ll be needing that one.) I also heard whispers that personalization of recommendations may appear later this year. If you blog on even a semi-regular basis, give Zemanta a whirl.

**Swotti from Buzztrend. One of those sites I wish people were buzzing about more. Sarah Perez wrote a nice post on it recently but it hasn’t been mentioned much otherwise. Swotti uses what the company calls “second-generation bots” to crawl the Web and identify people, cities, and products in Web pages. The engine then measures opinions on those entities and presents them in easy-to-read charts and analytics. The iPhone is a good example that showcases Swotti’s intelligence; with one quick glance, I see that people love its usability and loathe its speed. Even more compelling is the list of reviews it presents with relevant phrases highlighted. Swotti’s strength right now is products but I can see the engine applied to all manner of entities. And in a similar vein to Swotti…

**BooRah. You may have heard of this one but I find myself using it more and more when searching for local restaurants. The company launched at DEMO 07 and has since expanded its listings to 20 metro areas, with a nationwide rollout planned by summer’s end. Much like Swotti, BooRah focuses on opinions across the Web, but instead concentrates solely on restaurant reviews, aggregating ratings and comments to deliver an inclusive score. Its “sentiment analysis” provides a deeper path into the murky world of local search, allowing users to search for more nebulous terms such as “romantic,” “best thai food,” and “business lunch.” This site moved from deep within my bookmarks folder to my browser toolbar in a matter of days. A great use of semantic extraction, disguised as an intuitive mass-consumer tool.

I’m just now realizing that each one of these companies falls into the semantic space. Forgive me – I’ve developed an obsession that will not go quietly. It’s a striking example, though, of how pervasive semantic technologies are becoming. Oh, I almost forgot! Josh Dilworth at Porter Novelli, Mark Johnson at Powerset and I have thrown together a little tumblr site featuring a bi-monthly (I think) semantic podcast. Our first foray is a little long (30 minutes) but we’ll learn to edit, don’t worry. Check out Falken’s Maze and let us know what you think. And ten points to the first person who gets the reference in the blog’s name.

Zemanta Pixie

5 Comments »

  1. eric norln said

    falken’s maze=war games (professor falken)😉

  2. carlacthompson said

    Nice, Eric! I knew that wouldn’t take long. I’ll have to add a scoreboard widget to the site.

  3. Shanx said

    Swotti’s “search as you type” is slow enough to be useless. And when I pressed the search button, I saw this:

    Warning: fopen(/O/Subdir: Tree:/swotti.log) [function.fopen]: failed to open stream: Permission denied in /var/www/html/config.php on line 110

    Zemanta is neat. A bit like the Yahoo Shortcuts plugin for WordPress. Problem is it usually makes writing posts significantly slower. To show ‘related posts’ from other blogs or the web in general, there are plenty of widgets or plugins since 3 years ago.

  4. carlacthompson said

    Shanx – I saw that too on Swotti but my search results came through anyway. Perhaps our renewed attention will prompt them to fix it. I’m not having the same problem with Zemanta though and think it’s a significant improvement on any already existing widgets. Related articles are just one benefit; having ready-to-go links, pictures and tags makes my writing much simpler.

  5. CT — there was more than one winner!

    http://falkensmaze.net/post/36379420/welcome#disqus_thread

    Nice work to TigerJim48 too;)

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