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Blinkx Pico - real -time contextual search

I've been taking the latest search tool from Blinkx for a test drive today and it's a very interesting approach to providing information related to what you're currently reading. Reults can come from the web, blogs, podcasts, and Wikipedia and are derived from a background scan of the e-mail or web page you're currently reading.
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Written by Marc Orchant on
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I've been taking Pico the latest search tool from Blinkx for a test drive and it's a very interesting approach to providing information related to what you're currently reading. Results can come from the web, blogs, podcasts, and/or Wikipedia and are derived from a background scan of the e-mail or web page you're currently reading. It's not a completely new idea of course. Intellext offers a tool called Watson (pictured at right) that does much the same thing and, like Pico, it's available for free. A paid version of Watson is also available that connects to a wider range of information sources while Pico is supported by ads which appear along with the results.

Pico appears as a small row of icons in the title bar of the active window. A progress bar indicates a scan is in progress and when complete, icons representing each of the data sources light up if a relevant match is found. A click on one of the lit icons displays the found results. Pressing ALT+1 opens a full page display of all found results.

I find Pico a lot less intrusive that Watson which continually updates content and creates a substantial amount of visual distraction when displayed. The new Blinkx offering also seems to create less of resource drain than Watson. In all fairness, Watson produces a much more extensive set of results so there is a trade-off to be considered, as there almost always is with tools like this that churn away constantly.

Frankly I don't think either of these tools quite gets the job done in their current form. But they do represent an important step forward in leveraging the vast amount of information available on the Net in context to what you're currently focusing on. As the ability to map keywords evolves and sematic recognition algorithms improve, this capability will become increasingly useful. Either is worth taking for a test drive to see how much value they might deliver for the kind of work you do. 

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