Evri: re-discover the interconnected web

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Evri is a web service that indexes parts of the internet, reads and linguistically “understands” it and discovers connections between entities based on the activity of texts and articles. It then allows you to browse information within the dynamically built (and constantly changing) structure of interconnected entities that it finds.

Not freeware, but a free web service that helps users browse some of the most popular subjects on the net (popular people, popular places, and popular things) and discover connections between them. Evri is a bit of a combination between a recommendation engine of related links and a sort of dynamic, self-creating Wikipedia.

While Evri might look like a news and/or media portal with some nice, flash based links, this startupEvri connections2 is based on a robust technology that should raise some eyebrows. Evri is in fact powered by a search technology that scours parts the net (focusing mainly on news, politics, and general media related web pages) and actually understands references within the text to people, places, and things. So, for example, when indexing a news article that talks about Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton campaigning together in Unity, NH, it will “understand” that Barack and Hillary are people and that Unity is a place (and it will do so on its own, without any human intervention). If it sees a lot of texts connecting Obama, Clinton, and Unity on the web, it will be able to gauge the “strength” of these connections, as it were.

What this enables Evri to do is construct a web of links and interrelations that mirrors the flurry of activity (expressed in texts, articles, etc.) that takes place on the internet. It is designed to reveal interconnectedness of the web as expressed linguistically in what is being said/discussed rather than in terms of linked hyperlinks (as, for example, Google does).

What it means to you now: the Evri beta has been launched (at this point you will have to sign up for an invite). Here are some of the things you can do on it right now:

  • Browse dynamically generated pages on your favorite topic: whether its a band such as Radiohead, a politician like Barack Obama, or, say, the Seattle International Film Festival. The beauty of looking at these pages rather than, say, the corresponding page on Wikipedia is that they are always up-to-date and dynamically generated to reflect all the latest connections that relate to your topic. You might imagine how valuable this could be if you need to keep abreast of the latest that is going on with a topic that you are following from a holistic perspective rather than the headlines in a news portal (the latest on a company you are following such as Apple, or the latest on the iPhone, etc.)
  • Discover connections you didn’t necessarily know about: for example, the connection between Radiohead and Bono of U2 as reflected in latest news stories, but also the connection between your subject and verbs or actions that relate to them (e.g. in the Barack Obama page, click on “meeting with” in the dropdown and you will get a list of the top articles siting Obama meeting or having met with other figures.

What it might mean to you in the future:

  • Recommendation engine/widget: the model of interconnectivity that Evri builds can be applied in many places; in news portals or other websites where Evri can be embedded as a widget to act as a recommendation engine (a related links widget on steroids, if you will). I can’t wait to get a widget running on Freewaregenius, although from what I understand they will first start with indexing general news and media content (i.e. household name things), and then work their way down into other more specialized areas.
  • Dynamic pages indexed by Google: such that a search for, say, “Seattle Film Festival” will include a dynamic Evri page on the subject.

Wish list:(or how this service can be even better)

  • A search box would be nice. The current lack of one is perplexing but might have something to do with Evri’s stated slogan of “searching less and understanding more”; in my experience, however, not finding what I’m looking for to begin with did not lead to understanding more at all. As I understand it, a search may be coming in the form of Google.

The verdict: while it may look like a news portal with a curious way of browsing content, Evri has some seriously scary technology under the hood that can not only finds linguistic links but evaluate and rate a site’s content in a way that a number of other services employ an editorial staff to perform.

Having said that, I am also hoping that the people over at Evri can figure out a way to do more with this technology than the news portal that is the current beta release. I couldn’t help but wonder about why I, as a user, would care whether the technology knew that a relationship was to a person, a place, or a thing, and why (and how) that might add value to me. It seems to me that Evri can set their sites on a much more wow-inducing first impression that the current beta delivers.

Version Tested: beta release as of 7/2/2008.

Go to the Evri home page.