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.
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?).