- Sep 15, 2008
My ants won't join your storm, I've already set them free
So, Antstorm. After Appscout’s report that they had “never seen a service that brings social bookmarking and semantic search together the way AntStorm does,” and as I have this little project of listing all available semantic search engines, I thought I might as well check it out (yes, the list is in perpetual need for an udpate – those cementic developers are nearly too fast to keep up with).
Actually, Antstorm has very little to do with the semantic web, and a lot with the social web – but expect no folksonomies. First thing to do for you at Antstorm: They’re asking you to import your bookmarks; ideally, you would already have them in neatly arranged folders, labeled appropriately, and then Antstorm would convert these folders into what they call “trails”, which other users can follow. You can keep trails private, of course, but it doesn’t seem as if you can also keep selected bookmarks within these trails private. Hmpf.
And hey, wait: Is there anybody in the age of del.icio.us who still keeps her bookmarks on a computer? I don’t, except the ones that I need half a dozen or more times a day, e.g. the login to the corporate CMS or webmail, and these are not the links that anybody outside of my work context could benefit from. Importing bookmarks from del.icio.us is, however, not part of the AntStorm package – what you can do is to automatically add new links to del.icio.us as well by checking a box “Add to delicious” – but as you cannot add tags to a link on AntStorm, I wonder of what use an untagged bookmark could be on del.icio.us?
Things might get a little more interesting if you decide to add links to a group as well: A group on AntStorm is a community of editors who collaboratively manage trails related to the interests of their group. Any group member can suggest new links – the group decides by voting for or against it whether these will be added or not. Collaborative filtering, alright – I wonder, however, how many users you’d have to have in a group a.k.a. microniche to receive results that matter.
I failed to find out what the appeal of AntStorm could be – as all my bookmarks are either on del.icio.us, Bibsonomy (imported from del.icio.us) or CiteUlike (for all things academic), I don’t have any browser bookmarks left to get me started on AntStorm. AntStorm’s sales copy – “Have you ever needed a bookmark and realized it was on some other computer? Or have you ever wanted to save a bookmark, but you weren’t on your primary computer?” – would have convinced me in 2004, but I’ve already unleashed all my bookmarks. What they call trails looks all too suspiciously like yet another, difficult to manage folder structure to me. Of course I am biased, but I just don’t see how a collaborative link suggestion tool could work without tagging – or maybe I just didn’t find it?
Anybody with a few stationary bookmarks left – please set them free on AntStorm, maybe you’ll find out what they’re really good for. I clicked around a bit and skim-viewed their How-to-Video (9 min 18 sec!).
They promise that a share of the earnings generated by users will go to charity, and that’s always a good thing. Also, their logo is cute (even of not web 2.0 shiny) and I quite like the idea of a storm of ants.