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Radar Networks' Twine: Semantic Web meets information overload

Twine, an information management service from hitherto stealth start-up Radar Networks, goes beta Friday.

Nova Spivack thinks it's high time we make computers smart enough to manage the ocean of scattered information our digital lives create.

At the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco on Friday, Spivack will officially take Radar Networks, the start-up he co-founded, out of stealth mode and show off Twine, a Web service for managing information, using your social network and the Semantic Web.

With Twine, people collect different pieces of information in a single place and let other people add to that collection. People can e-mail items into Twine, bookmark Web pages, or upload documents. To add tags, people fill in a form.

The software is smart enough to create tags itself after mining through the content, which can be text, audio or video. It also taps into the collective knowledge of Wikipedia to categorize information.

Radar Networks' Twine service for managing Web info and collaborating.

Under the covers, Radar Network's server is using natural language processing and Semantic Web technology to get a better idea of the meaning of a person's collected information.

"This is the user experience side of the Semantic Web," said Spivack. "Our motto is 'people are lazy.' Who wants to spend their time being a librarian?...That's what we made computers for."

The idea behind the Semantic Web is that Web content has embedded data that allows applications to "talk" to each other. With that self-describing information, summed up in the RDF (Resource Description Framework) format, software agents can act on information, making life easier for Web users.

Spivack said that the Twine "knowledge networking" service really shines when used for collaboration. People can share information on a certain subject and get notifications when someone in their social network posts something new. The more information Twine gathers, the better it gets at recommendations and understanding a user's preferences.

Radar Networks' plan is to offer a free service that is advertising-supported and to introduce a line of premium services, which would be more geared toward business users.

Also in store are a set of application programming interfaces (APIs) that will let outside developers write applications on its platform. Spivack said that Radar Networks intends to follow the same strategy that Salesforce.com has in building its online development platform AppExchange, which provides a foundation for building third-party applications.

The Radar Networks platform is based on Web standards RDF and OWL (Web Ontology Language), which means that information can be transported into another service, says Spivack.