Start-up of the week

Curiyo promises more information, less annoyingly

Using pop-ups and hover-overs to feed users information is just obnoxious, says Israeli entrepreneur Bob Rosenschein. His new start-up intends to change that

Dynamic contextual advertising and linking on websites is a big business today, but many of these services leave much to be desired, according to information guru Bob Rosenschein.

“I don’t want to knock anyone, but many of these link services are very annoying,” he told The Times of Israel. “I wanted to develop something that would be much easier on the eye, and much easier for users to digest — a service with as good a user interface and experience as possible.”

It’s for that reason he established Curiyo, a new browser add-on “that allows users to get more information about just about anything on the web, using dynamic contextual technology they can live with,” he said.

With Curiyo installed, users see a light dotted line under terms. When the user hovers their mouse over the line, they see a question mark, and clicking on that symbol activates a pop-up box that provides more information about the term (Curiyo’s trademarked term for the process is “long clicking” a link).

Clicking on the term “Elvis Presley,” for example, will bring up a box with biographical information about the musician from celebrity info site Who2, along with tabs that allow users to get more Elvis-related stuff at Wikipedia, YouTube, IMDB, Twitter, news sites (yep, Elvis is still in the news), and other services. The number and variety of services varies; there can be as many as 20 information tabs in the Curiyo pop-up box, depending on the term.

“Effective reading is all about focus; the web is like a digital fire hydrant with overwhelming and always-changing streams of information to find, filter and digest,” said Rosenschein. “Curiyo gives you instant gratification, delivering relevant content — in context — without leaving the page, on-demand, in one click.”

Bob Rosenschein (Photo credit: Courtesy)

Rosenschein long ago achieved the status of “guru,” creating, developing and directing, one of the most popular information sources on the web. Answers was exactly what its name implied — a service that purported to supply answers to questions important and otherwise to web surfers. Established in 1999 (and originally called GuruNet), Answers became very popular after 2005, when it launched its free application. The company went public in 2004 on the AMEX (switching to the NASDAQ in 2005), and was sold in 2011 for $127 million in cash to a group of investors.

Rosenschein’s latest offering is clearly a more advanced iteration of Answers — and has many unique features and improvements that come from the more sophisticated technology the service uses. “The idea is the same in that I am trying to supply information, which maybe shouldn’t come as a surprise, as I was in the business for 12 years,” said Rosenschein.

But Curiyo is not duplicating the work of Answers — because Answers, although it is still going strong, no longer offers interactive contextual Web links. “The emphasis in Answers is on a downloadable app, not a Web extension. In essence the Answers web model was dormant, and with Curiyo we are reviving it, as our main offering is via the web,” he said.

There are several differences between Curiyo and other services that provide in-page contextual interactive links, among them the service’s dynamism. “We update information almost on the fly, reflecting changes in the web almost as soon at they appear,” Rosenschein said. Thus he ensures that Curiyo’s information is always fresh.

But Curiyo’s biggest selling point is its interface. “We bring the web to you, the user, so you can drill down for information without leaving your page — which by itself is a great service. But we’re not obnoxious about it.”

Many of the similar services, for example, show you information about a link with a mouse hover, even if you don’t need it. That’s why Rosenschein went with the “long click,” he said. “We’re polite, and we’re also subtle, which is why we use the light dotted line to indicate that you can get more information with a long click. It’s just enough to let you know there is something there without being obtrusive.”

Curiyo is free, and does not host ads (yet). It may in the future, but Rosenschein has another way to make money — with Curiyo Publisher, a service that lets bloggers and site owners add their own internal terms, tags, and links to the Curiyo information empire. When a user clicks on a Curiyo-powered link on a site, they could get older content from the site, as well as links from affiliates or other relevant (to the site owner) web pages. “It’s like an interactive wiki for sites,” Rosenschein said.

By including Curiyo’s widget on their content pages, sites can automatically deliver content to readers wherever they are browsing, Rosenschein said. Specialized tools to deepen integration and engagement are in final stages of development.

“With online content growing at unmanageable rates, the connection between reader and writer is becoming tenuous and fragmented, to the detriment of both parties,” said Rosenschein. “The Curiyo platform reduces browser tab overload and instead delivers useful facts on the spot, without distraction or wasted time.”

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