I recently received a gentle reminder that Kikin, a browser plugin that brings additional relevant content to Google search results has been updated and is accomplishing more than, as some blogger put it, filling in feature holes.
That blogger would be me, and the Kikin version I was reviewing at the time was duplicating the functions of Google’s left navigation column—the one that, um, brings you more relevant content.
In February, Kikin revamped their Firefox plugin, it’s now called the Kikin Edge.
Time to take another look at it.
I get it. Kikin is no longer “in your face” with overlays tabs on the Google search page. Instead, the related links are exiled to the right edge of the current browser page. Kikin is supposed to be a well-informed travel partner in your Web journeys.
So there’s now a column of favicons to indicate the source of the content. That’s good. As expected, the Wikipedia “W’ and answers.com “A” show up an awful lot.
Kikin did well with a New York Times article on higher than normal radiation levels in Tokoyo’s water supply. It was not clear to me what a becquerel was, and by double-clicking on that word, Kikin supplies a definition— it’s a unit of radiation, as in number of decays per second.
The informative icon array seems to be a little choosy about when it makes an appearance. Kikin was a no show when I visited The Daily Beast to read their review of HBO’s Mildred Pierce remake.
But they decided to pay a visit at another review of the James M. Cain warhorse on a different site.
This brings up a more important point. Kikin does not perform any kind of semantic analysis of the Web page. Not surprising, it’s a much tougher problem
Ideally, when you go to a movie review, the relevancy software should understand that what’s being talked about is a movie, which has a collection of topic attributes: director, cast, writer, adapted from a book, etc. And then use those attributes to pull up truly significant content.
There’s only so much mileage you can get out of text-based pattern search, which is what Kikin (and many others) are doing.
I’ve written about Freebase, which is a fascinating semantic database for capturing connections between concepts. And in fact Freebase has organized an extensive knowledgebase on movies, as well as lots of other topic areas. It would be a natural fit for Kikin.
Unfortunately, a company called Google now owns Freebase. I would expect Google’s left column of related content to get even better in the coming years.
With Razorish co-founder Craig Kanarick’s recent talk at HTM still in my ears, I’ll say that Kikin is likable, but it’s not a tool that consumers will love.