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Overview / Awards and Press / User Reviews / uTOK Links
|uTOK is a knowledge community
system allowing people to post and read notes on top of any Web page,
thus creating a new layer of knowledge above the World Wide Web. The
uTOK name means ö Usersâ Tree of Knowledge.
I co-founded uTOK at March 1999. We developed the product in 6 months, raised $5 Million, grew to 30 employees and opened 3 offices (Tel-Aviv, San Francisco, New York). uTOK had 50,000 users from more then 100 different countries, 1200 user created groups and 350,000 user notes posted on 15,000 URLs. The product won major awards, the press wrote about it, and it was praised by the users that used it. In April 2001 uTOK stopped operating, because we were not economically viable. Here is a short overview of the uTOK product and technology.
uTOK is a client server application. The client is a stand-alone application that is active whenever the user is online. The small client window Îlistensâ to the browser (Netscape, Explorer), and for every web page the browser loads ö the uTOK client displays the number of user notes previously posted on that particular Web page or Web site (Figure 1).
If the user wants to read some of the notes, he clicks on the button to open a window with the notes headers. The user can filter the headers based on Date, Topic, Group, Author or Rating (Figure 2).
The user can read the existing notes, comment to any of them (Figure 3), write a new note or just continue to browse to other Web pages. The notes are stored on the uTOK server, and the Web site owner has no control over them. The notes do not tamper the Web page design or layout; they are viewed in a separate window, above the Web page (Figure 4).
If a user decides to comments on an existing note, the original author of the note will receive an automatic notification, that a comment has been posted to one of his notes. The Notification will link him directly to the commented note and to the relevant Web page.
In order to control the quality of information In the system while maintaining a democratic system and freedom of speech, we have invented a democratic rating system. On every note, every user can vote, either ÎThumbs upâ or ÎThumbs downâ. The voting data is calculated on the server, and based on it each note receives a rating score, displayed on each note by a stars system, between 1 star and 5 stars. When a note rating score is below 1 star ö the note is being automatically deleted from the system, because users has identified it as SPAM. The notes rating were also reflected on the user that has posted the note. Every user had a user rating, which is the aggregated rating of all the notes he had posted. This created a Îsocial statusâ hierarchy in the system, so some users are Î5 starsâ users and some are Î1 starâ users.
Groups were another concept
in the system. Users could join groups they feel they are associated with.
The groups are user created, so there were many groups in many diverse
topics. Some examples: ÎMovies are better then lifeâ, ÎBookwormsâ, ÎPC
Hardware Discussionsâ, ÎPhilosophersâ, ÎIndividualsâ, ÎSPAM Bustersâ, ÎNews
of the worldâ etc.
The outcome of the various
features was that a new way was defined for intimate group interaction
over the Web.
Read more about uTOK in the different sections above (Awards and Press, User Reviews and uTOK Links).
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