The best way to find the needle you’re looking for in that haystack is to organize the hay. We need to understand how pieces of information relate to each other, or they’re not useful. Two new startups I spoke with recently — Semantifi and FindTheBest — are turning big, opaque datasets into online databases that can be queried. Both use human power to format thousands of topic-specific web applications, which help users manipulate data to find more complex and satisfying answers than what could be found with a regular search query.
Semantifi was one of the cooler companies I saw at the DEMO Conference this week. You can use the company’s SEC filing search app query “Best Buy Amazon sales last 2 years” and within seconds, you get a table comparing quarterly sales data for each company, as well as an automatically formatted graph (pictured below).
Stamford, Conn.-based Semantifi wants to provide access to structured datasets by enlisting people to “unlock the deep web” and use its web-based tools to create search apps. What Semantifi means by an app is a dataset that has been imported by a user, with the user teaching the system which cells are categories and a little bit about how they relate to each other. Semantifi has seeded its site with search apps to better access government and financial data.