Sunday, February 3, 2008

Twine: The Semantic Web Is Here!

Our Facebook Friend Sarah Miller, a librarian at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington is interviewed in the February 3 2008 NYTimes about Twine "a revolutionary new way to share, organize, and find information" [].

An Online Organizer That Helps Connect the Dots


HOW often have you wasted time searching through page after page of e-mail messages, Web sites, notes, news feeds and YouTube videos on your computer, trying to find an important item?

If the answer is "too often," a San Francisco company, Radar Networks, is testing a free, Web-based application, called Twine, that may provide some robotic secretarial help in organizing and retrieving documents.

Twine can scan almost any electronic document for the names of people, places, businesses and many other entities that its algorithms recognize.

Then it does something unusual: it automatically tags or marks all of these items in orange and transfers them to an index on the right side of the screen. This index grows with every document you view, as the program adds subjects that it can recognize or infer from their context.

Customers have individual accounts on Twine’s Web site, where they save URLs or other information. They can make their collections, or "twines," private, share them in groups with other members having common interests like politics or fashion, or even make the twines public.


Twine is based on technologies created for the developing semantic Web — foreseen as a smarter Web where machines may someday be able to process the meaning of words and phrases in documents and even routinely answer direct questions.

Sarah Miller, a librarian at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, became a member of Twine’s test group in November, partly because she and her husband, Ethan, a doctoral candidate, needed a place to organize all the documents they wanted to share with each other about teaching and learning.

Ms. Miller likes Twine’s mechanized tagging abilities.

"If I save the URL of a Web page into my Twine account," she said, "Twine will skim the page and turn it into tags automatically. It’s a way to tie together things that my husband and I find over days, and months and years."

Twine has an option that allows people to do their own descriptive tagging, just as they might, for instance, use the Web service to assign labels to Web sites to help keep track of them.


Other users are also glad to let Twine do the tagging. Carla Thompson, a senior analyst at the Guidewire Group, a marketing research firm in San Francisco and a member of Twine’s beta group, makes good use of the automatic feature.

Ms. Thompson is also interested in Twine’s social networking capabilities. She joined a group that discusses the semantic Web, and she says the documents she has learned about at Twine have been wide-ranging and helpful. "I hope to make the site a one-stop shop for learning about the semantic Web," she said.

Mr. Spivack [founder and chief executive of Radar Networks] says he hopes that many people will use the site to pool information. “The site is for connecting knowledge around interests, and having useful discussions,” he said, “not just for socializing.”


Ms. Thompson of the Guidewire Group is hopeful about Twine and related programs. “I like the idea of a smarter Web that can do more than show us a funny YouTube video or blog posting,” she said. “The Web really does need more meaning and intelligence.”

Photo(s): Marie-Susanne Langille for The New York Times



John Meier said...

I registered for the Beta, but sadly haven't been able to test it out yet. Waiting for general release.

NievesGlez said...

Me too. I registered for the beta several times and contacted with Candice Nobles. She said me they have had an overwhelming response to their out beta.