Today AdaptiveBlue released a new version of its BlueOrganizer product, a Firefox extension that aims to provide extra contextual information to you while browsing the Web. Basically after you install BlueOrganizer in your Firefox, it enables you to discover all kinds of relevant content while you're browsing - such as books, music, links, related information, etc. Essentially then, it adds personalization and semantics into the browser (Firefox).

AdaptiveBlue is the company of Alex Iskold, a regular writer on Read/WriteWeb. He is one of the smartest technologists I know and his posts here are a consistent source of inspiration and conversation amongst the R/WW community. Which leads me to say: what's interesting about the new release of BlueOrganizer is that it puts much of Alex's theories about Web 2.0 and the Semantic Web into practice. I'll explain how in this post.

What's New?

First, what has been released today? Here are the highlights of the release, code-named BlueOrganizer Denim:

  • BlueMenu in the Firefox Toolbar - the menu is now accessible from the Firefox toolbar, without the need to right-click;
  • SmartLinks - BlueOrganizer users can now publish SmartLinks that contain contextual shortcuts to related information. See demo here;
  • Re-designed BlueMarks and sidebar, for saving and managing your personal information (see screenshot below);
  • Improved Content Recognition - faster, more precise and works on any page, link and text selection.


BlueMarks and sidebar

Techcrunch has more coverage of the features, but for this post I want to turn now to the Semantic Web elements.

Top Down Semantic Web

Most of the web 2.0 products you see nowadays use bottom-up content organization techniques. For example, del.icio.us and Flickr use tags from users to organize content, and MySpace and YouTube are based on user-generated content that is mostly discovered via a user's social network along with search. But BlueOrganizer is different - it is a "Top-down Semantic Web" approach.

Alex's theory is that the Semantic Web will arrive gradually, using a top-down approach. In the case of BlueOrganizer, what that means is it adds semantics to basic web elements: pages, links, text. With BlueOrganizer, a user can add a description to a web page (they might note down "web 2.0 blog" about readwriteweb.com, for example). BlueOrganizer then uses "a combination of parsers, web services and analysis algorithms" to take that unstructured content and turn it a structured content - such as related websites to readwriteweb.com. This structure is then retained, as the content is used again and again in BlueOrganizer. Alex has a neat phrase to describe this, saying it "empowers people to re-write the web using automation." Here's an illustration of the concept:

Conclusion

All up, BlueOrganizer is an excellent practical example of how semantic web technologies are creeping into Web 2.0. We forecast this in our 2007 predictions post at the end of 2006, which Alex contributed to. Interesting though that the 'official' semantic web efforts, led of course by Sir Tim Berners Lee, still aren't making much headway on the Web. But when you mix in user-generated content, APIs, "parsers, web services and analysis algorithms" and the rest of the techniques that AdaptiveBlue is using, well just maybe Sir Tim will get his Semantic Web after all.... just not perhaps as he envisaged it.

Disclosure: Alex Iskold, CEO of AdaptiveBlue, is a writer for R/WW.