Semantic Services

If you’re a blogger or have any interest in semantic/content management technologies then you may be interested in a couple of new services which have recently launched with the aim of making content creation easier by automatically suggesting contextually relevant images, links, articles and tags which you may like to include.


Tagaroo is based on an initiative called Calais by Thomson Reuters to “connect the world’s content by providing automated metadata services“. The video below sums the concept up pretty well –

It has an extremely slick and easy-to-use UI which sits neatly below the post editor on the WordPress write page, suggesting tags and images as you type.

Underlying the interface the magic is carried out using “natural language processing and machine learning algorithms to extract the people, organizations, companies, geographies and events hidden within it”. To do this it connects to Calais via a free API (registration required). Pictures come from Flickr with a CC license.

My tests have found it pretty reliable and an extremely quick way to tag your posts using a standard global taxonomy. At the moment the plugin is only available for WordPress and Drupal however a number of other tools are currently under development.


Described as “a brilliant product for lazy or otherwise time-focused bloggers“, Zemanta is similar in many respects to Tagaroo, although perhaps a little more mature in its functionality (it’s European after all!). The video below shows how it works –

The tool uses its own database of content (indexed from over 300 “top media sources”) in order to suggest related pictures, links, articles and tags. It has a clean UI which integrates well with whatever backend you use and is offered either as a plugin for all the major platforms; WordPress, Blogger, TypePad and LiveJournal, or as a browser extension for IE or Firefox.

As someone who frequently links to Wikipedia in my posts, I’ve found the link suggestion component an especially easy and quick way to insert these references with virtually no effort. Although the interface for picture insertion isn’t quite as nice as Tagaroo, Zemanta is currently my plugin of choice.

Yahoo also has a competing offering although it’s restricted to Yahoo content only so I’ve not taken the time to review it.


Whether you call it Web 3.0, the Semantic Web or the Giant Global Graph I think these sorts of services are an important step towards the automated inference of knowledge from information. When we reach the point where machines can “understand” the content that they are parsing the implications are massive. Aside from a whole herd of near-term applications, I can also imagine scenarios in the not-so-distant future where every piece of content on the web is automatically linked to everything else which is relevant to it without the need for human interaction – Wikipedia without the editors or boundaries (or inherent bias?).

David avatar

5 responses

  1. David, my team worked with Reuters to develop the Calais plugin for Drupal as well, which was developed at the same time. Your reader's on Drupal can install the module and do the same thing you can for WP.

    Module on Drupal –

    More info on the module/project here –

  2. Hi Jeff, thanks for the tip – apologies for not spotting this before! I've updated the post to include a link to the Drupal version.

  3. Great to see that Tagaroo is actively looking to the community for it's direction.

    It would be cool to integrate some of the other functionality offered by Calais such as being able to add semantic metadata. I would also love to be able to use it to create links to other relevant content elsewhere.

    To my mind Tagaroo is certainly the better implemented of the pair so it will be exciting to see how it develops.

  4. David:

    Thanks for taking the time to review Tagaroo – we're pretty pleased with it. Right now Tagaroo is very young and a good demonstration of what you can accomplish using Calais with just a few weeks of development effort. We're already deep in the middle of specifications for the next release which will have significantly more functionality – so stay tuned.

    If any bloggers out there have specific suggestions for what they'd like to see incorporated in upcoming releases – please drop us a note @ [email protected]. Tagaroo's development direction is 100% driven by what the user community tells us they'd like to see.


  5. Hi David,

    Krista from Calais here, writing to let folks know that Calais 2.1 is live.

    In addition to our ongoing addition of new entities and vocabularies, the updated release features relevance ranking and integration with Yahoo Pipes.

    BTW – we have also updated our browser plug-in Gnosis for Firefox 3 and created a version for IE. Go to Tools on



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