AB Meta

Yesterday, our portfolio company Adaptive Blue announced a "a simple and open format for annotating pages that are about things" that they call AB Meta. My partner Brad who is on Adaptive Blue’s board, posted about it today on the Union Square Ventures blog. Marshall Kirkpatrick also has a post about AB Meta on Read Write Web.

I’ve been filling this blog with semantic intelligence for the past year with Adaptive Blue’s smartlink technology. When I link to a record like the new Sun Kil Moon record, April, smartlinks knows it’s a page about a record and codes the link as such. We’ve been calling smartlinks a "top down" approach to adding smarts to the web.

AB Meta is Adaptive Blue’s efforts to marry it’s top down approach with a "bottom’s up" approach that may be more attractive to media companies and e-commerce services that have a large number of pages in their systems about things.

Slowly but surely the web is getting smarter about itself and we are proud of Adaptive Blue’s role in making that happen.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. Ian McAllister

    Fred, have there been any derivative uses of the smartlinked content in your blog? Are those smartlinks clicked on more than other links?Like you and many others I like the idea of microformats and other ways to embed metadata and structure, but am still waiting for a killer app that actually creates value from them. Do you have a position on what that killer app is, or at least what class of app? It seems like Google has to be part of the equation. I haven’t heard much about Live Clipboard lately.

    1. fredwilson

      I think its something social. Nobody has built it yet to my knowledge

  2. jackson

    Careful now, haven’t you seen Terminator? 1984? The Matrix?I think I like the old dumb web better, it’s safer…..

  3. Philippe Bradley

    I weighed in on the top-down vs. bottom-up issue last month in what was my most viewed post to date (http://www.overthecountercu…The argument, summed up, goes as follows: Google potentially spends up to 35,000 man hours A DAY improving its search engine’s crawling of the web. It already has (limited) ‘top down’ (I use that term loosely in its current keyword/keyphrase-based implementation by google) ‘understanding’ of what is on this page; more advanced top-down semantics is the obvious next step for google, understanding the relationships between the words on this page and mine. That’s a huge challenge, but Google, with its awesome workforce and historical expertise, is best placed to do it, compared to everyone else in IT/search. For them, that’s probably a brilliant barrier to entry and a great way for it to cement its dominance.But a bottom-up approach puts the hard work in the hands of the page owner (and whatever software he wishes to use to microformat his own data). Anyone can then (relatively) easily pull out and mix+match that data. So in a bottom-up web, Google has no advantage over the next johnny-come-lately; for example Cuill ( http://www.crunchbase.com/c…, if it can already index webpages better than Google, could also relatively easily read and do neat stuff with the microformats that you’ve been so kind as to wrap around all your information.I could be wrong on all this, but if not, don’t expect Google to be at all keen to encourage bottom-up semantics, e.g. by implementing microformats on all its content as Yahoo did (and conversely, it’s obvious to see yahoo’s strategic motivation in doing so)Top-down: Google supremeBottom-up: Google challenged

  4. daryn

    At Startup School on Saturday, someone asked Peter Norvig (An AI/CS legend and Director of Research at Google) a question relating to the semantic web. Peter’s immediate, tongue in cheek response was:”The semantic web is the future of the web… and it always will be”.It certainly made me chuckle, but I think it has a fair amount of truth to it. Structured formats and microformats will certainly enhance the ability to easily be machine-searched, but 1. we’re a long way from seeing widespread adoption and 2. there will always need to be another layer of analysis beyond that (in the search context at least) to factor in spam/abuse and other relevancy weights and factors (pagerank).

  5. Kelly

    I get a tremendous amount of useful/helpful info from your blog, not the least of which is the head’s up on the new Sun Kil Moon album!! Thanks! I love those guys. Did you notice they were the band in Shopgirl?

  6. Pete

    Please, please do not use AB Meta. This appears to be yet another proprietary fork.Please get behind the W3C standard RDFa:http://rdfa.info/ And if you cant do that use Microformats:http://microformats.org/I have already implemented both in the front end and am restructuring the backend to utilise their enormous potentai (look up sparql on google) on my website:http://localhero.biz/These formats have enormous potential, are open, and are standards. The same cannot be said for AB meta.

    1. Alex Iskold

      How do you declare that a page contains a book using these two standard formats? Can you show us an example?

      1. Pete

        Alex,I don’t know about microfromats they are not a de jure standard, just an easy way of embedding info into html.But RDFa is a standard. It utilises xmlns just like rdf. There is bound to be a xmlns that deals with books out there(I don’t know what it is and am not going to spend the time to find out though). And if there isn’t you can create one, thats the beauty of rdf.The important thing is to follow the rdf subject -> predicate -> object format. This can be embedded in html using xhtml+rdfa which is now a w3c standard.Petehttp://localhero.biz/

  7. vincentvw

    Cool, I hope people build plugins (or whatever they’re called) for sites like Wikipedia, which I often use to link to media.

  8. Jason Crawford

    The semantic web is an exciting idea. However, I’m not yet convinced that it will ever come about, primarily because I don’t yet see what will motivate people to start structuring their content by marking it up with metadata.The AB Meta FAQ you linked to answer a lot of “what” and “how”, but doesn’t address the “why”. Why would anyone spend the time and effort required to do this markup? Or rather, what will motivate enough people to do it that the semantic web has a chance of coming about?I think if the semantic web is going to happen, it’s going to require some immediate payoff from doing the markup.Why do you do it, Fred? (Other than interest in a portfolio company and the desire to play with a new technology.)

    1. fredwilson

      The smartlinks add something useful to the link. That’s the ‘immediate benefit’ that I getFred

      1. Jason Crawford

        Interesting… I read AVC in Google Reader, and the smartlinks don’t show up, so I never noticed them. And when I went directly to avc.blogs.com, it took a long time for the smartlink icon next to “April” to show up (I’m using FF2 on a MacBook).Anyway, the smartlinks have clear value, but I still don’t see where the immediate payoff from AB Meta is.

  9. Leroy

    why not just a browser based plug-in that allows users to summarize a pages content, CNN.com style with the bullets? Leave it open so people can continuously fine tune….but would save having to read entire articles….

  10. Alex Iskold

    Hi Ewan, we already support a whole bunch of affiliate programs.

  11. Alex Iskold

    Hey Ewan,As it turns out not a lot of people incentivised by these because you can’t make a lot of money unless your blog is highly trafficed or unless you are on many blogs, like we are.In terms of handling stuff via PayPal – that would be hard for us to do because then we need a lot of tracking infrastructure like LinkShare, etc. We are just a connector or a pipe right now.