New Smartlink Icons

Some of you may have noticed little music icons next to the links to artists and records in my "three records" post from yesterday. That is if you cleared your cache. Otherwise you might have seen the old smartlink icons.

These are the new smartlink icons from our portfolio company adaptive blue. Alex Iskold, adaptive blue’s CEO, explains the new icons in this post.

Here are some examples:

Golden Delicious, the new record from Mike Doughty
YHOO, the stock that I should have bought a month ago
Brad Feld, my friend and co-investor in adaptive blue and a lot of other companies
Vintage Tunina, one of my favorite white wines
Spotted Pig, our favorite local haunt where Gotham Gal and I ate last night
There Will Be Blood, a movie Gotham Gal and I are seeing tonight

I am really excited about this little change because it showcases the power of smartlinks in a way that the old icons did not. All you need to do to generate these smartlinks is put one line of javascript into your blog template. For many of the popular blog platforms, there is a one click install.

After that, when you link out to a movie, a book, a restaurant, a stock, a record, a person, etc, on many of the most popular websites, the link will be decorated with an icon to show what that link is and give you the option of "exploding the link" to find related information without navigating away from the page.

These semantic anchors are going to start showing up all over the web and the web is going to get just a little bit smarter in the process. And that’s a big deal.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. Fraser

    Glad you like them 🙂 Not only are they simple to install but SmartLinks aren’t inserted in the post unless we recognize the object. This means they’ll only appear when they can deliver benefit to you and your readers.We had a friend of the company, Anne, nicely describe the benefit of SmartLinks as “reaching across the Internet to pull everything together about the object” and making it all available directly from the site. I thought that was a nice way to put it.Pairing that with the concept of ‘exploding the link’ is, as you say, a big deal.If anyone has any questions on this or would like some help setting it up on their site drop me a note: fraserkelton at the

  2. Brian

    Fred, I’m a fan of SmartLinks, too. However, I feel like they slow down a webpage noticeably and can make a blog feel a bit crowded. Is it a big deal? Not really. But, in the same way that minimalist pages like, facebook and even google get the job done quickly and easily, I’m weighing the tradeoff between cleaner browsing and a richer experience. So far, the richer experience has won.

    1. Alex Iskold

      Hey Brian,We have SmartLinks on thousands of blogs around the web and there is no performance impact that we have noticed. I am curious to know what blog specifically do you think is slow because of SmartLinks?Thanks!Alex

      1. Brian

        Alex,Maybe performance impact is the wrong phrase. But, I’m referring to the same thing that Ari is, that it takes a while for them to load. To me, it makes the page feel like it takes a long time to load because it kind of ‘refreshes’ the page. The other comment referred to the fact that you need to add in the smartlink icon, which takes up space. It’s not bad, thats why I put it on my page. However, I can think of similar things that are mostly ads on other webpages (from Vibrant, i think), that I can’t stand when i’m browsing around. Just something you’ll want to keep in mind. But, i think you’re doing a great job. keep it up. Feel free to email me (you can get my email from Fred here or at my site) and i’ll be happy to clarify anything.

      2. fredwilson

        my blog is so slow and because smartlink icons load last, it takes forever for them to show up here. check out seth godin’s blog, they load instantly.

  3. nickdavis

    I’m sure the naming of these links was given a lot of thought, but doesn’t “SmartLinks” ring a bit to close to “smart tags”, Microsoft’s similar failed concept (… I completely understand the fundamental difference: “smart tags” were a browser/OS feature and content owners had no control, but aren’t you worried that choosing such a similar name might evoke some of the ire that was directed at Microsoft back in the day?Just don’t launch another product called something similar to “Hailstorm” 🙂

  4. Fraser

    By the way – I should also add that when you install SmartLinks you get a stats dashboard. It shows not only the objects that are most popular on your site but also includes the Web Wide Popularity Dashboard that allows you to discover the most popular items online.

  5. Cameron

    While the SmartLinks are pretty sweet, the real story here is There Will Be Blood. I will be as surprised if you do not post on it tomorrow as I will be if it doesn’t win best picture / best actor for Day-Lewis.

  6. aripap

    I agree this is cool, but the links didn’t show up until a good 5-10 seconds of page loading took place. I think all your badges and ads had to load first then the Adaptive Blue loaded. Maybe it needs to go in the <head> section of the page?

    1. Alex Iskold

      Hi Ari,You are bringing up good and important point. We are delaying this until page loads. Any widget that plays a good citizen on the web needs to let content come first.

    2. mikezapata

      Ari: That’s the same experience I had. I think that goes along with Brian’s comments above. I set this up on my tumblr and noticed the “Smartlink Supported Sites” seems limited. I like the concept but I wonder if things like Wikipedia or Google news will be included in the future? Wouldn’t want this to just be commerce related.Update: I see my comment was answered below – nice!Note to AB: I browsed to the website looking for the “Supported Sites” but it wasn’t clear to click on the graphic. I only thought the sites with the listed logos were supported. Also wikipedia seems essential.

  7. Robert Seidman

    Is there any way to customize where the smartlinks point to? What if I want to link to Yahoo finance instead of Google, Wikipedia or IMDB instead of Amazon, etc. Any way to do that?For what it’s worth, I do not find that it slows the blog down at all and the links are added seamlessly to the RSS feed as well. I like that there is no crazy rollover crap ruining my experience and slowing me down by popping up graphics I havve no desire to see. but I don’t like the notion of being a slave to someone else’s linking preferences.

    1. Alex Iskold

      Hi Robert,You can choose where you link – of course. For automatic SmartLinks you can link to any of these:… (note the choices in each category, contain the sites you mentioned).And if this is not enough, you can create custom SmartLink via BlueOrganizer for any page.Alex

      1. Robert Seidman

        very cool, thanks.

  8. Don Jones

    Do they only work on blogs…or any web page?

    1. Alex Iskold

      Hi Don,They work on any page. Let us know if you need help setting up ( alex dot iskold at )

  9. Jonas

    I have been following adaptive blue closely for a while now… I think one of the key challenges you are facing is related to interface design. So kudos on the icons… they are a nice step forward.1. Why not display the full set or at least a more useful subset of links VS the bland click count when a user hovers over an icon… it is an easy way to garner more clicks through and reduce user click count frustration.2. Why not further reduce the smart links & adaptive blue brand dominance in the “exploded” interface? A text link at the bottom of the “explosion” should more than suffice. After all this is something people are integrating into their site and probably want to dove tail in as much as possible… when in doubt, less is more. If you really want to capture the attention / impression you could use some sort of very quick interstitial after a click through to another resource.Keep up the good work!

    1. Ashish Singal

      I agree .. expanding the popups would be nice. I also think that Wikipedia should be added. I know you may be working on this at Adaptive Blue, but how about customizable links .. kind of like the way you can add new searches to Firefox?