Twine, one of the original semantic web services, officially comes to an end this week â€“ at least as its own individual property. Twine users received notices over the last week that they have until May 14 to authenticate themselves to Evri, which bought the company in March, so that they can maintain the data bookmarks they created under the service. Starting week's end, Twine.com traffic also will be redirected to Evri.com.
But Twine will live on in terms of its influence on Evri, which already has taken the information from the most popular Twines, like Beer, and mapped them to create similar streams on Evri. And the integration will become more apparent over the next 60 days, as Evri continues to take advantage of some of the tools and technology the Twine team built to more efficiently and quickly expand its ontology coverage.
The Twine developers bring with them semantic ontology and semantic structuring expertise. "That lets us quickly expand our entity and structured data knowledge base, and that ultimately improves not just the breadth and depth of the [intelligent content] streams we can deliver, but also their relevancy and our ability to disambiguate" around new and emerging topic areas, says Evri CEO Will Hunsinger. That will be important as Evri further enables its users to go from following people, places and things on the real time web to more esoteric topics and breaking stories.
Take the Gulf oil spill story, for example. "Two days before [the BP] platform exploded there weren't a lot of people on a regular basis following BP, or the Gulf of Mexico, or marine searcher oil platform, or environmental disaster," says Hunsinger. When suddenly that changes, it becomes important for semantic technologies to connect the dots â€“ that, for example BP was at one time called British Petroleum, that it is an oil services company, that it owns this oil platform â€“ and otherwise put structure around all the information appearing in articles. The need is to refine all that data so that users interested in this particular aspect of BP aren't also bombarded with news about the company's charitable contributions, for instance.
Evri is focusing on this follow-the-content experience, taking the onus off the users to find and bookmark new content, and instead letting it find them. "Instead of 90 percent being people keeping [content] fresh and 10 percent links that are handpicked, we get 90 percent of the content across the web, filter out the clutter, and you just do 10 percent of the work, which is to curate the stuff so that you can save it," Hunsinger says. That curating experience also includes personalization of real-time web information, including social content â€“ for instance, pulling into your personalized Evri content stream something a Facebook friend sends you about the Gulf oil spill, or receiving your stream about the environmental disaster back through the Facebook medium. Topics can be shared back out to the social graph via the Open Graph API on Facebook, or through other social networking services like Twitter.
"The Open Graph API just greases the wheels for us" with Facebook, says Hunsinger. "I think the jury is still out as to how open the Open Graph API really is. A lot of data flows in but I'm not sure the pipe coming back out is as big as the pipe going in."
But the discovery experience for Evri, he says, is not just about following topics anywhere on the web, but also on mobile platforms. So next week Evri plans to launch its first Android application, with an iPhone version to follow. The initial application for mobile delivery of intelligent content channels will be focused on tech news and content, such as the venture capital space for tech startups. More channels will be coming, but the idea was to appeal first to the tech folks that are likely to be the early adopters of such services before extending delivery of intelligent streams on mobile platforms to other topic channels.
Speaking of VCs, Hunsinger thinks that the recent acquisition by Apple of startup Siri, which had developed a semantically rich voice-enabled personal assistant for the iPhone, validates the direction Evri also is taking. "In a world where people are using technology to get things done or find things, and in a world where the time spent on the web and using mobile devices will reach parity soon, this is a huge validation that semantic technologies that have consumer applications truly add value," Hunsinger says.
If that's true on the web, where you don't want to have to do 50 Google searches or make sure you're on Facebook before a news feed you're interested in gets pushed off the page, it's doubly true in the mobile arena where users are thumbing in text and viewing small screens. "I don't want to have to go to Tech Crunch, VentureBeat and VentureWire and the NY Times Dealbook to find the 5 financial stories I'm interested in that happened yesterday," he says. "I want to get them all in my inbox, and semantic technologies provide that level of preciseness to make that happen".