Of all the products that I saw at DEMO 2008, none impressed me more than Silobreaker. It’s a website that pulls in content from all over the web; mainstream news, citizen media, images, video and documents. All of that content is then run through their proprietary engine, which parses it for keywords, names, places and events. Correlations are drawn between items and shown in a number of different ways.
As a user, all you need to do is enter in a search term, so it’s a simple and easy to understand tool. I was able to spend some time talking to Silobreaker’s team, who are based out of London and Stockholm, it wasn’t surprising to find out that many government security agencies, multinationals and risk-assessment firms use their service. Beyond public usage, I can see how Silobreaker’s engine could be useful for large enterprises who are trying to map people, documents and events internally.
The tool becomes really interesting once you get past the initial aggregation of news and start looking at the “Network Search” and “Trend Search” tools.
This is the part that I enjoyed the most. I did a search for Kenya, since it’s on my mind a lot these days, and started drilling into the content revolving around the conflict. Correlations between people and events started to emerge, and I was surprised to find that the people profiles had a lot more data on each person that I expected.
Silobreaker auto-extracts, in real-time from thousands of articles, the most related companies, people, events, etc – and displays them in the relationship network. By hovering over over the midpoint of any relationship the user can easily see the articles that explain the association between two points.
The Trend Search view shows the mainstream media’s focus by topic. Below you can see how the media has followed then entrance of Kofi Annan and John Kufuor as they try (tried) to mediate in Kenya.
Track hotspots by date and geographic location. The size of the hotspot indicates the number of articles written about that specific geographic location. You can drill down into any of them for further information.