The Sun Sets on DEMO 08

sunsetsmall.jpgHere’s one last view of the sun setting behind Santa Rosa Mountain as DEMO 08 came to a close. Chris Shipley, the executive producer of the conference, noted two things during her introductions on the second and last day. First, she speculated that this would be “the last DEMO where social media is going to be a category onto itself,” she said. Having a social media aspect to your business has become so commonplace that companies will have to be reorganized along different lines. One of the themes recurrent through the second day was about making searches smarter. “Google’s great, but it’s not enough,” Shipley said. Now that people are able to amass huge volumes of data with Web searches, it’s up to entrepreneurs now to help them make better sense of all of it. Leading the “why didn’t I think of that” category is Delver, formerly known as Semingo, which combines Google-type searches with social networks. The company’s search engine crawls through social network sites, and builds a “social graph,” a tree representing your friends and friends of friends, and what they’ve posted that’s relevant to the terms you’re searching. In this way, the founders argue, search results have more significance, since they’re connected on am emotional level to the person doing the searching. Putting news articles and current events into context graphically is the aim of Silobreaker, whose site creates several different charts showing the relationship between people, places, and issues. One of the most interesting is the “Network” chart, which treats the different categories as hubs connected to each other by spokes. For example, a search for “Hillary Clinton” (as in this link) will show connections to “Barack Obama,” “Bill Clinton,” and so forth. Hovering over any particular term brings up a window showing biographical information, as well as how that term is related to the original search query. Users can also move the hubs around the screen, even pull irrelevant ones into a trash bin. There’s still a few kinks–the chart kept disappearing while I was using Firefox on my Mac–but this could prove to be an invaluable tool for researchers and news hounds alike. Jodange, another next-gen search engine, tracks what opinion makers are saying about certain topics, and charts their sentiments over time, and how their statements affect, or reflect, market trends. It can also be used to track topics in general, and what a number of people have been saying about it over time. I can see this site being used by the “I told you so’s” of the world, or by people looking to take weathermen or sports commentators to task for faulty prognostications. There’s plenty more of interesting ideas and products that we saw at DEMO 08. Stay tuned to read more about them on this blog and in LAPTOP magazine.

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