DEMO

DEMO: Trailmeme lets you take a walk on the Internet

Trailmeme is one of 70 companies chosen by VentureBeat to launch at the DEMO Fall 2010 event taking place this week in Silicon Valley. After our selection, the companies pay a fee to present. Our coverage of them remains objective.

The next step in sorting through and sharing content may involve a little bit of trailblazing, if Xerox-backed startup Trailmeme has its way when it launches at DEMO Fall 2010.

Trailmeme allows users to connect links in a logical order on a “trail” that users can follow with what it calls a content-discovery tool. Any user can build a trail, and the popularity of a trail is dependent on how many times someone has actually “walked” it. Links are presented in the form of a web for users to click to visit each individual link.

The company hopes to eliminate anxiety over information overload by having users view trails linked in a logical order — something that reads more like a newspaper or a book than a Twitter feed. The whole system is built with Ruby on Rails, a popular Web-application development environment, and HTML5, the latest version of the common Web-page standard, which means users of older Internet Explorer Web browsers may have some trouble using it. Trailmeme already offers a Firefox toolbar to help navigate individual trails. Browser toolbars for Chrome and others are in the works.

While only about 1 percent of users provide a majority of the content, Trailmeme expects anywhere from 9 to 20 percent of users to casually contribute with comments and the occasional trail. Google Fast Flip, Pediapress and Instapaper — all players in new ways to deliver content — are all potential competitors, and some have the advantage of bringing traditional media like books to Web content.

Trailmeme is still being incubated within Xerox, but the crew of three, along with some part-time help, has been working on the software since 2008. The project is completely funded by Xerox, and is still in a private beta.

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