Untangle the Internet

September 21, 2016, University of Twente
Credit: University of Twente

The Internet is a teeming tangle of billions of pages, where brilliant information is buried in dubious content. All the information is there, somewhere; you just can't find the best and most relevant quickly. The new Dutch startup DOT.world, a spinoff company from the University of Twente, has a modest goal: To change all that.

This "platform of platforms" wants to redesign how people and organizations interact with online . It aims to filter out Internet noise via topic-specific platforms that reveal the best on that topic, empowering online communities and organizations to share, organize, and curate content. The filtering process takes places by enabling the crowd to create a clear structure and curate the content. The platforms ultimately help people save time by providing them with quick access to the most relevant information on specific topics.

It's the next phase of evolution from the directories and aggregators of yore, pushing beyond the hard-to-navigate lists of links on sites like Reddit, or the fusty encyclopedia structure of wikis, into a visually engaging, dynamic, organized world of information, where quality and relevance rule.

DOT.world is already enabling several platforms dedicated to topics such as startups, management and consulting, food security, and the Zika virus. "No matter what the topic is, the content is clearly structured and you can drill down and quickly see what others find most helpful and interesting," says DOT.world founder Wim Korevaar. "In this age of information overload, structured platforms allowing experts and the crowd to curate and filter information are key," for both consumers and businesses.

A young but seasoned entrepreneur, Korevaar says the inspiration for the platform sprang from "the frustration that we're spending too much time on low-quality information. What do we really want online, when searching for information? We want to find an overview of the best on X, the best on Y, the best on Z, in a matter of seconds. While there is a great deal of valuable information everywhere on the Internet, there is also a lot of noise. We wanted to empower experts of all kinds to unite, create structured community platforms, to filter the information, and find the best content for each topic."

Powered by the wisdom of the crowd, the DOT.world platforms ensure users find information worth their attention—even if they are relatively new to the subject. "If you know precisely what you're looking for—a particular blog post or product, say—use a search engine. If you want to stay in touch with friends and family, a social network is perfect. But if you're looking for a place to discover, organize, and discuss the best on a specific topic, then the DOT.world platforms will help you put it all together and separate the wheat from the chaff," explains Korevaar.

The most characteristic feature is the platform's navigation. Via the platform's navigation structure, users can filter away uninteresting information and home in on the subtopic that most interests them. When browsing, users see the best-related content, all shared and ranked by other users. The more people contribute, the better the quality of the platform becomes. "If there's no platform on the topic you care about, you can register your own, and connect a community which shares your passion for politics, sports, culture, or anything else" says Korevaar.

Users and organizations can register platforms on the topics they feel most passionate about. All it takes is choosing a subdomain name (cooltopic.dot.world, for example) and a topic. Once people are invited on the platform, they can start sharing, organizing, and ranking web content related to the topic. As content is added, users can curate, deciding what's worthwhile by upvoting or downvoting the content.

There are two flavors for DOT.world's structured, community platforms. Basic platforms are free, include DOT.world branding, and are open and fully democratic. The other, for organizations and corporations, provides more customization, branding, and advanced moderation features, for a fee. Nonetheless, all platforms have the same goal: Facilitate the discovery, organization, and ranking of relevant on specific topics.

"In the end, we believe that not a single person, a single company, or a single algorithm can organize all content online and determine the best on a specific topic, but together we can," Korevaar concludes. "It's exciting to see this vision becoming a reality."

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