Headup – the semantic web Firefox addon
I recently started using Headup. I’ve been looking for this kind of addon for some time now. When bits of information are missing from peoples’ profile pages, product specs, media, and other online content it is crucial to combine multiple data sources to piece together a complete picture. Headup does this!
Using its smart semantic mapping of entities and relationships Headup gathers and links information from multiple online sources. To complete the picture it then personalizes the results using your presence on multiple web services like Gmail, Twitter, Facebook, Digg, etc.
Headup is not only innovative in its semantic approach to linking data, it also integrates nicely with your Firefox browser and offers you a few ways to access the data it discovers. One example is Google searches: After installing Headup you can expect to see your search term annotated “Headup:[search term]” with a thin orange underline at the top of Google’s results. When your mouse hovers over the term a click-able circular plus sign loader will allow you to open Headup’s overlay interface.
The starting point – googling eagle eye.
The complete picture – headup-ing eagle eye
I recommend you visit Headup‘s website to learn how to use it but as a whole it’s pretty intuitive and I prefer dedicating this post to the reasons you should get it:
My eight reasons for using the Headup Semantic Web Firefox add-on :
- Because hyperlinks simply aren’t enough – Relying merely on arbitrarily selected outbound links that send you to find info related to the page you are browsing is limiting. There are more relationships among the different entities on the page that could be leveraged to retrieve associated information. Headup already mapped out these semantic links and makes them available for you in a neat and accessible interface. The experience doesn’t end with search results.
- Because you can save valuable search time - Both the user interface, and the way information is presented, require less clicks to complete an in-depth search through multiple search sources.
- Because the information comes to you – Search can be an exhausting task. In many cases it involves either a recursive drilling down into multiple levels, or traversing the search vertical up and down for additional information. Google itself is aware of this potentially laborious process and is making an effort to bring associated information to the first SERP: Recently when I googled the term “movie” I got three results that were movies playing in theaters in my area. Headup provides multiple data types as a default: Using Headup on the “Pink Floyd” will get you a summary relating to the term, the bands albums, see photos depicting it, listen to the bands songs while reading their lyrics, find news blogs and web activities related to it, and much more.
- Because it brings down the chances you’ll miss key information – “Headuping” people is a terrific way to learn more about them. I “Headup-ed” my friend Bill Cammack on Facebook and immediately discovered that he’s a video editor with an Emmy award to his name. In this case the extra information regarding the Emmy award was brought in from Bill’s LinkedIn profile.
- Because you can learn and find information you didn’t expect – If the example from my previous item wasn’t proof enough here’s anoter example: I ran Headup on “Kill Bill” (what can I say? – I’m a Tarantino fan) and discovered this blog post published today (1-2-2009): “More Kill Bill on the way” – Tell me this isn’t cool!!
- Because it’s personalized – When configuring Headup after download, or later via the “Settings” option, you can choose to connect Headup to the online services you are subscribed to. Headup connects to a wide variety of web services like: Gmail, Delicious, Twitter, Facebook, FriendDeed, Digg, Last.fm etc. The information Headup retrieves from these services allows it to personalize the info it discovers for you: If you Headup a firm you’ll get friends of yours that work there. If you Headup a band you’ll see who in your network likes them. This is another example of how Headup is not just a search tool but a browsing experience.
- Because you don’t lose your starting point – Headup is designed as an overlay window that keeps your starting web page, and anything else you have open on your desktop, visible beneath the interfaces’ SilverLight frame. Inside Headup you can drill down endlessly, but when you’re done you are back where you started.
“We here at Headup treasure our privacy and that’s exactly why we made every effort to create a browser add-on that would live up to user privacy standards we would be comfortable with. We’d be embarrassed to let you download an add-on we wouldn’t download ourselves.”**You don’t need to sign-up for using Headup and your information is stored on your machine only**
**Bonus: one additional reason – because on some pages it ROCKS! Try it on last.fm and you’ll see why it ROCKS…literally! By the way, the Headup user interface lets you watch videos and listen to music like a regular media player.
My questions for the Headup team
I plan on occasionally checking Headup’s blog for updates. At this point Headup supports Firefox on Windows and on Macs but I know that they plan to support more browsers in the future. I think that at this point the key thing to focus on is that the Headup concept works.
I do have few questions for the Headup team:
- Do you plan on adding vertical derived classifications? I can see some use cases for health (and maybe even for software development). Just as headup was able to map out “Actors”, “Films by the same director”, “Web Activities”, “Related News”, “Trailers”, etc. for a “Film” type entity. I can see it applied in a similar fashion for a “Health” type entity – retrienving things like: “Case”, “Treatment”, “Clinics”, “Pharmaceuticals”, “News Groups” etc…
- Do you see enterprise usage for Headup? I still need to give it more thought but having Headup in my email could be cool. Another possible implementation is supporting corporate CMS tools.
Epilogue – Is Headup’s “Top Down” approach the face of the future Semantic Web?
The Semantic web promises to make information understandable by machines. If you follow Alex Iskold‘s excellent series on Semantic Web on ReadWriteWeb you are aware of the multiple approaches to make this happen. The top-down method implemented by Headup helps brings the future to us a little sooner. I think Headup is giving us a taste of what future browsers will look like in an age when they, and other tools, will be able to understand more than just hyperlinks. When using Headup it feels like I’m doing more than “browsing” or “searching” I feel like I’m experiencing a new web!
One last thing: using Headup for some objects didn’t yield complete results. Don’t judge them too harshly for it, instead please focus on the concept. My experience with Headup so far is that in most cases the relevancy of the information provided was more than reasonable. I think that for a small company just out of Alpha what has been accomplished in the short time the company has exited is impressive and promises that improvements will be fast coming.
I’m using Headup and gave you the eight reason I have for doing so. If you are using it too I’d be happy to hear why…
Inspired by Being John Malkovich movie
Context: The objective of this fictional short story is not to share my wannabe ambitions (guilty) but to emphasize closeness and influence. In my opinion as we adopt social media tools for personal and work objectives we can get closer as if we share a single mind powered by many brains. Communication between people is a miracle. An effective communication between individuals is a phenomenon. Today, communication on the web happens more frequently than ever before.
Some bloggers influence so many of us that it is possible to recognize their tone of voice and content from other corners of the web. There is nothing wrong about it since these voices are on the good side of the fence, leading the way. It could be yet another form of closeness – identifying with.
Being Chris Brogan – the story
Blogmon, the application that I built for monitoring Technorati ranks progress over time, was acting all week long. The numbers where all over the place. The tracing shows lots of errors coming from Technorati web service. I was getting a little agitated and finally when I started seeing weird rank numbers I decided to pay the web site a visit. I decided to look at the Top 100 blogs page first. As I was scrolling down just above the 8th blog from the top (Official Google Blog) and below the 7th place (Ars Technica) there was an additional narrow but obvious blank line. The distance between the two blogs seems off. Then I felt my hand suddenly moving the mouse as if I have no control over it, and as the cursor was hovering over this blank space I noticed that a yellow small font text become visible. The mouse cursor was now away so the text become invisible again. This time I moved the mouse intentionally and kept the cursor on the yellow text. To my astonishment the text in yellow and italic font said: 7.5. “Chris Brogan life-stream portal”. With a shaking right finger I clicked the link. Suddenly the bluetooth light at the bottom right end corner of my laptop flashed with purple light. The Wireless Network Connection icon at the task bar started blinking and Technorati page turned pitch black. I was sure I was attacked by an extremely powerful and distractive virus. After few seconds sitting frozen on my chair with what that looked like a turned off computer I touched (hesitantly) the laptop mouse touchpad.
The computer slowly turned on but the feel was as if I’m controlling another computer through remote access. It is more accurate to say that I was not really in control at that time, someone else was moving the mouse and clicking on all sort of desktop objects and I was only the observer. That got me even more paranoid thinking about worms and other goodies from the world wide web – why did I clicked the obviously suspicious link?? Just as I was about to go to the Start button (I run XP on my laptop) to shutdown the computer I noticed that it was running Mac OS. More than that I noticed that I was starring at Chris Brogan blog while someone was answering multiple comments using the @mrX and @msY notation. I did not know what to do so I just sat there and watched the hectic activity, after few minutes I could only reach one conclusion. I’m watching thee one at work. That’s when I decide to un-mute my laptop speakers. A soft voice speaking almost without taking a breath started coming through the speakers. “25 ways to help the world using social media”, “50 ways to find your destiny using your blog”, “how to show your appreciation to the community”. Now, I was really freaked out!! I’m not just watching him I’m inside his brain!!!.
But before I had the time to digest all of this, a new window popped up and I could recognized Twhirl the Twitter Desktop client. The mouse clicked first the @ button looking for recent replies (there were 6 new ones) then the envelop button (there where 300 direct messages – poor guy). I could now hear the answers before they were typed although the typing followed in a speed that I did not even know possible. I or Chris or both started answering to some of the Twitter replies from @cspenn, @jeffpulver, and @jowyang. I haven’t touched my mouse now for more than 12 minutes but it felt like my brain was carried for a ride as if it was co-pilot on a combat jet plan.
Twhirl through Twitter sent us following several links recommended by friends, fans and followers. We left a couple of comments here and there (backtype helps to refresh my memory). We shouted out other’s Tweets to share the sharable. Then after 20 minutes I got a “network failure” message. The OS changed back to Windows and the browser was loading one of those splog that copies other people work using a bot, planted with lots of AdSense ads all around – a real beauty. It was then 2am and my brain was shut. I closed the computer and went to bed.
Tomorrow I will try and see if I can join the cognitive flow and shout out some of my favorite blog posts on Twitter… I heard that when Chris does it, it could do miracle to the web-site traffic:)
If you want to know about BlogMon please read my BlogMon – The only way is up! post. You can find daily updates on Twitter @BlogMon. You can also see periodically aggregated results reported on The A-List tab, Archive tab, and Perfect Record tab.
I was very happy to see this week that @BlogMon passed the 50 followers mark. This is great consider the fact that it does not follow others.
I recently added new pattern looking for blogs that cross tiers. Based on Technorati rank I look for blogs that cross to the top: 10000, 1000, 100, and 10.
Here is an example of an update to the @Blogmon Twitter account reporting this change:
#CrossToTop10000, http://thecurvature.com , Owner: Cara, Gain:47.70 %, Since:9/16/2008, Rank:9961, Tags:”misogyny”,”patriarchy”
This pattern was fairly easy to implement and the only challenge was dealing with Technorati data abnormalities. From time to time the rank is totally off, like in the following scan records for wpthemesplugin:
For now, I solved it by looking for the previous minimal rank for comparison and not just using to the last one.
I think that it should be very exciting to be listed on the top X blogs. This is definitely a milestone to report on.
So, I hope to see you at @BlogMon. You can submit your blog for monitoring going to BlogMon home page or by following @BlogMon on Twitter.