Live from DEMOfall: The Weird, the Web and the World Mind

Day Two of DEMOfall 08 started with a collection of companies that can only be described as nontraditional. Among the collection of products presented in this session was a tool to trace family connections, a service designed to pay people for doing successful job interviews, a social tracking tool for volunteer work and a service essentially designed to help people hitchhike. But if these products were a little nontraditional, it doesn't mean that some of them weren't promising. From a pure potential standpoint, the most promising of this group would appear to be the silicon expansion valve from Microstaq. Now I don't know much of anything about valves for air conditioning units, but if the company has what it says it has--which is a smaller, vastly more efficient system for AC units--if adopted this product has the potential to save lots of energy and resources. We'll see if it really happens.

Day Two of DEMOfall 08 started with a collection of companies that can only be described as nontraditional. Among the collection of products presented in this session was a tool to trace family connections, a service designed to pay people for doing successful job interviews, a social tracking tool for volunteer work and a service essentially designed to help people hitchhike. But if these products were a little nontraditional, it doesn't mean that some of them weren't promising.

From a pure potential standpoint, the most promising of this group would appear to be the silicon expansion valve from Microstaq. Now I don't know much of anything about valves for air conditioning units, but if the company has what it says it has--which is a smaller, vastly more efficient system for AC units--if adopted this product has the potential to save lots of energy and resources. We'll see if it really happens.

Zazengo is a service, kind of like a social network but not exactly, the lets volunteers and organizations track how people are doing in their volunteer work and also compare activities to others. Paidinterviews is a job hunting service with a very nice system for building employee profiles, and--an interesting twist--users request a signing bonus if they get hired.

The second half of Day Two was much more practical and focused, specifically on tools designed to get the most out of the new wave in Web technology. Among the more interesting was Infovell, which my colleague Clint Boulton has written about, a Web-based tool that has the power of advanced desktop search and research tools and the ability to search the deep Web. Interesting but also a little creepy was Intelius iSearch, a site that appears to be very effective in helping users find people based on small amounts of data, such as first name and where they used to work.

The day ended with a panel that looked at the future of the Web. On this impressive panel were Howard Bloom, Peter Norvig, Prabhakar Raghavan and Jon Udell, and the moderator was Nova Spivack.

Discussion on this panel focused on the future of the Web, looking at factors such as artificial intelligence, the ability of Web services to understand and react to people's needs, and whether the Web has become a kind of global brain.

All in all, this was a fairly interesting DEMOfall. Will some of the participants turn out to be the big companies of tomorrow? You never know. But many at least are pushing the envelope in their ideas for the future of technology.