I've been at Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco all day "shooting" ReviewCams of sites and services that claim to fit into the Web 2.0 category. One such demo that I captured on video (see below) is essentially a search site that's designed for especially for people who are researching topics and who would prefer to have their search results organized in a way that's conducive to learning about some subject matter rather than just wading through pages of search results. Kosmix.com may be worth a try if you want to get smart about something in a hurry (instead of looking for a needle in a haystack).Here at Web 2.0 Expo, I sat down with Kosmix director of product management Vijay Chittoor who showed me how, for different subject matter, Kosmix automagically knows how to pull together what could best be described as a dynamically generated Wikipedia entry on the fly. One key difference between Kosmix and Wikipedia however is that Kosmix uses APIs to mine the services that are relevant to the topic at hand. For example, as can be seen in the ReviewCam below, if you want to learn all about some geographic location, Kosmix intuits that you might be traveling to that destination and as such, when it returns its first results to you, those results include content that's pulled from TripAdvisor.com through TripAdvisor's API.
Were you to search on "Nancy Pelosi" (clearly not a geographic location), it access different services through different APIs to assemble a biographical and political profile; a proverbial one-stop shop for everything you wanted to know about "Nancy Pelosi" and everything she's connected to.
Another interesting feature that Chittoor demonstrated is the way Kosmix helps users to "disambiguate" certain searches. The example Chittoor gave was a search on the term Blackberry. After searching on Blackberry, Kosmix offers the user to the opportunity to narrow it down to Blackberry the PDA, Blackberry the fruit, or Blackberry the town. Each search would cull information from different sources. For example, searching on Blackberry the fruit brings up biological information, recipes, and so forth (the sort of stuff you really wouldn't get if you were searching on BlackBerry the PDA. Here's the ReviewCam.