The so called “semantic web” is on its way — or, according to Adaptive Blue CEO Alex Iskold, already here, and just waiting for the right applications to exploit it.
With the latest release of his company’s application BlueOrganizer, a FireFox plug-in that provides a way of browsing the web with more intelligence at your fingertips, the wait is about over.
BlueOrganizer lets you do things like right-click on words on a page to pull in more information about the words, even supplying links about where can buy it (if it is a product), or book a ticket (if it is an event).
Indeed, the semantic web is all about making data understandable so that computers can help make connections meaningful to humans, and Adaptive Blue focuses on specific niches in order to make the process of building those connections easier.
BlueOrganizer’s approach is to organize data on a page by categories of consumer interest, like blogs, books, movies and restaurants.
If you had the plug-in and I made a mention in this post, for instance, of the book “A Thousand Blazing Suns” by Khaleid Hosseini, BlueOrganizer would highlight the name, provide further information and links to buy the book, learn more about it or share it with others.
We’ve written about this application before. New to the application, however, is the ability to access info like a name and address that has been microformated, meaning it’s tagged within the HTML created by the page designer. Right click anywhere within it and you’ll be able to automatically map the location or check out nearby restaurants.
Or, for a person, right-click on their name and be able to shoot off to their Facebook or Twitter profile, look them up on Wikipedia if they’re famous, and so forth.
Iskold calls it a “top-down” approach to the semantic web. Rather than tagging data before it’s placed on the Internet, BlueOrganizer looks at what’s already present and uses it to help people in their ordinary browsing activities.
In the process, it’s re-structuring the way its users navigate the web by providing a browser-based overlay to websites that users navigate by, rather than the links alone within pages.
For the most part, the new additions to BlueOrganizer are logical extensions to what already existed in the program (which we’ve previously written about). The six-person team has been periodically putting out new releases that progressively make the plug-in more powerful.
AdaptiveBlue competes with a number of other startups that tag data, although many have an opposite approach, counting on web designers to include them in the code of the page. Other, larger rivals will probably eventually include a larger semantic web startup like Twine (coverage here), although its implementation is somewhat different, or PeoplePad, a stealth startup we recently wrote about with secretive plans to do something that sounds quite similar to BlueOrganizer.
The company took $1.5 million from Union Square Ventures in early 2006, and is currently considering another round.
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