Silobreaker Breaks Out Online

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Through relentless work on relational analysis, and an investment in a spot at the DEMO conference, Silobreaker CEO Kristoffer Mansson may be the next big newsbreaker on the Internet.

"Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself."
-- Morpheus tells Neo seeing is believing, The Matrix

Our chat with Silobreaker‘s top executive brought us one of those ‘red pill’ moments, something rare and unexpected in a technology world filled with derivations and variations on a theme. Silobreaker is a news site, and at the same time, it isn’t.

Silobreaker Breaks Out Online

When we see the teeth-grinding prattling about social graphs and such, the general feel we have wants to be shown why such a thing is important, why we should care about if it launches or cashes out or fades into wherever sites with not enough vowels in their domain names go when they die.

Then we see the future, and we recall the red pill tasting a little better than we remember.

On to Silobreaker, and its approach to content. The site jars a bit in comparison to the simplistic approach of Google News, or the cookie cutter big-ad-on-the-top-right look of the Times, the Post, CNN, etc. Silobreaker is a little complicated at first look.

But that first look is like getting a new butcher’s knife, and having a really deep fridge full of prime delectables waiting to be carved. Silobreaker’s blade cuts into news content through relational analysis, and clustering of topics.

When Silobreaker says a story is related to a topic, it is. Visitors to the site can start with the front page of stories, or pick a deeper category or industry to explore.

Silobreaker offers a few ways of looking at news, in a visual manner that goes beyond text. In Network Search, one sees the visual world around a search term. It’s responsive – do a mouseover of an icon, and see why something relates to the topic in context, deduced on the fly.

To make the view more relevant, options to filter and contextualize the relationship appear at the top of the page. One can for example see how Google may be relevant to the ongoing Microsoft-Yahoo takeover situation.

“Traditional search is a bottoms-up approach,” Mansson explained, as you have to know what you want to find in order to go looking for it. Silobreaker works top-down; start with a concept, and the site helps the searcher find what’s most relevant to the idea.

In Silobreaker’s Trends Search, the site will make a guess at the possible most likely relationships existing for a search topic. Suggestion technology in the search box lists options to auto-complete a query based on what has been typed so far.

A Trends query for Xbox 360 comes back with filters in place for Xbox and Nintendo Wii. An accompanying graph shows the relative share and article volume, the trends, about the topics being compared.

Hot Spots Search looks for activity around a topic on a global or local level. If a lot of people from a given area have been contributing articles about something online, that area shows up as a clickable hot spot on a map.

Once clicked, the view changes to a page about the story, with related stories, quotes, and other search views available in Silobreaker. On the right side of Silobreaker pages, visitors can mouseover terms in the In Focus window and see how they relate in context to the story at hand.

Mansson said Silobreaker pulls in between a million and one point four million articles per month, from around 10,000 sources that are open on the Internet. A ‘My Page’ option in Silobreaker allows people to create tabbed, widgety pages of the content they prefer, and to add in Silobreaker’s visual tools and other features.

The future of Silobreaker may cover a couple of paths. Mansson wants to offer an ad-supported free version of Silobreaker for consumers. He also perceived three areas where Silobreaker should appeal to enterprises: analytics and discovery for internal documents; specialized verticals with targeted, and possibly premium, content; and as a solution for content providers who have the content but lack the presentation tools to make the content available.

We won’t mince words. Silobreaker is a revelation to news junkies as it is today. We see a small barrier to entry for the typical click and go Internet user, but for those who can be encouraged to stick around and try out the service, they should be pleased with what they discover.

Silobreaker Breaks Out Online
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