Zemanta is a British/Slovenian startup which has developed a plugin for Wordpress to suggest relevant links, pictures, and tags by analysing the content of a new blog post before it is published. Zemanta was one of the 6 winners of SeedCamp last year and recently announced a $1.5M seed round so someone clearly believes in their product. I've tried the demo on their site and I've read through their blog on which the plugin is used liberally and I'm just not convinced it's useful. Take, for instance, this post on their blog. Read the text below and try to guess what the links point to without hovering your mouse cursor over the links.
Remember the post about technology today? In that same hotel, we are now accustomed to simply reset the wireless each time we pass by it, and yesterday an interesting point arose from that. If there’s anything Microsoft should patent in this world is the concept of reboot. It just works, it applies to any contemporary technological gadget, and in was in fact popularized by them.
Did you get any right? Firstly, why on earth would I want links from that article to the Wikipedia entries for technology, patent and contemporary. Secondly, bloggers have developed a style of linking relevant content to words in a paragraph which usually allows the reader to tell roughly what a link will point to without actually looking at its URL. Zemanta breaks this convention by encouraging authors to pepper each post with irrelevant links. In the opening paragraphs of this post you can guess what each link points to without visiting it. As a little bonus, the SeedCamp link points to the page detailing the 2007 winners rather than simply the SeedCamp homepage. If this were a Zemanta 'enhanced' post, the 'demo' and 'blog' links might be links to researched, considered, relevant content but, from what I've seen, they could just as easily be links to the Wikipedia entries for 'demo' and 'blog'. In their favour, I have to admit that the image suggestion is pretty useful. Images in blog posts are often only semi-relevant but serve a useful purpose in 'lightening' the page and attracting reader attention when viewed in an RSS reader. Finding such images with appropriate licensing and inserting them into WordPress can be a pain and Zemanta may be worth pursuing for this alone.