Could it be true—do we actually have all the information we need? There are news feeds to bring us the latest happenings on the public stage, Facebook and Twitter and blogs to tell us everything friends and selected strangers are thinking and doing, Wikipedia to fill in the gaps in our knowledge, multiple mapping sites to tell us where we are and where we’re going, and more. We’ve got it all, a raging torrent of information that threatens to drown us.
So at the conclusion of Demo Spring 2011, a new technology showcase held this week in Palm Desert, Calif., I sighed in relief that none of the 60 or so companies in attendance are looking to bring the world another source of information. Instead, a fair number are looking to throw the information-soaked some kind of flotation device, some way of helping them to survive the flood.
There’s About One, a company that organizes family information—calendars, photos, videos, contracts, coming from computers, smart phones, and cameras, stores it in the cloud, and sends it down to earth in hard copy on demand—instant baby books, for example, or holiday letters.
And Manilla, which organizes bank accounts, bills, subscriptions, and travel awards. manilla.com
Primadesk goes out and finds all the documents that you’ve scattered around the cloud, on places like Google docs and Flicker, and gives you access through one site; it also backs those documents up in its own cloud.
Pixable Photo Feed is an iPad app that goes through all the photos loaded on Facebook by all your friends, sorts them to find the people most important to you and the most interesting photos (based on numbers of likes and comments) from those people, and presents those in a photo stream.
Thoora is another tablet application to deal with data torrents—this one lets you specify topics of interest and favorite news sources, and sorts through news, video, and twitter feeds to put together an individualized package of content, that you can then share out to friends. News360 starts building your topic list automatically, by looking at your Facebook page to figure out what you’re interested in; you can edit its choices later.
And if you’re interested in following the hottest news, Trendspottr, a browser plug-in, adds an option to see the latest trending topics to search results, identifying articles, videos, hashtags, and images that are just starting to go viral.
Photo: a sample of Pixable's Photo Feed
Video: News360 cofounder Roman Karachinsky demonstrates his news curating app.
Tekla S. Perry is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum. Based in Palo Alto, Calif., she's been covering the people, companies, and technology that make Silicon Valley a special place for more than 40 years. An IEEE member, she holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Michigan State University.