Ahead of their time…

Deepleap. No idea what it is? Well, neither did I until I popped across this image in Adam Mathes Flicker feed.

For those of you with normal eyesite, it says “Use Deepleap to access your bookmarks and more from any computer. Learn all about this handy browsing companion in our review.”

WOW. Apparently we aren’t revolutionizing the web quite as much as we thought we were. I know, some of you will point out that it doesn’t say anything about social bookmarking or tagging, but that isn’t the point. And it especially isn’t the point when you look at this post by the CEO of Deepleap, Lane Becker, back in April of 2000.

Actually, I can’t resist, either. Here’s the explanation I send Dave earlier this morning, which he said was cool to post to Discuss (Warning: Long! Slightly rambly! In that “here’s our vision” kind of way.)

We’ve got Deepleap doing any number of things, actually, but they all hook around around this one main idea, and all trying to demonstrate the same thing: that you should be able to do things with the information that you care about on the Web.

And, of course, you care about this information when? When it’s sitting there, right in front of you. When you find it.

Here’s a (forward thinking — we aren’t doing it, yet, but are working on it) good example of an ideal Deepleap scenario. It’s the one that initially got us started thinking about all this:

I’m on Expedia’s site, and I’ve just booked a plane ticket. Now I have all of the flight information in front of me on the checkout Web page. What do I do now? Well, that information is important to me, but in order to get it somewhere I can use it I have to do the following: copy the text of the page, drop it into Microsoft Word, reformat all the weird white space that the browser creates, copy it again, launch Palm Desktop, find the appropriate date and time on the Calendar application on my Palm, and paste it back in. That’s, what, 10 minutes of my time wasted?

Well, if Deepleap knows where to find that information on the page (or if I can grab it in XML, so Deepleap doesn’t have to work as hard :), why shouldn’t Deepleap just zap that info straight into my palm for me? It’s just a simple data exchange between formats that ought to be compatible, with Deepleap acting as the bridge, the middleman between them. Or I could sent it to my Yahoo! calendar. Or my AnyDay calendar. Whatever calendar I use, that’s where I should be able to send it. Because it’s *my* information — it’s just… trapped right now.

Take a look at Yahoo! Yahoo! is amazing in that it integrates all of it’s different features — if I do a person search, and I find that person, I can add her immediately to my contact list on Yahoo! If I find a theater showing the movie I want to see, I can grab a map to it. But why shouldn’t I be able to do this with *everything* I find on the Web, sending that information *anywhere* I want it to go?

Even further: If one of the goals of XML is bringing objects down to the level of the document, then why shouldn’t I, the user, be able to take advantage of that as easily as some of the folks making these XML connections on the back end? Why shouldn’t I be able to define my own connections between the different information and the tools that I care about? When I get overexcited, I like to tell folks that Deepleap is XML for the people! Content management for your lifestyle! Middleware for the masses!

Now, that’s the dream — the reality, right now, is that we’ve built Deepleap as a *platform* for doing this sort of contextual relating between sites, and what we’re demonstrating with the beta is more the general concept. So if you pop up Deepleap on an Amazon.com product page, for example, it will give you a set of tools based around buying a product — comparison shopping, reading reviews, etc. Or if you highlight the name of a movie, and activate it, that will bring up a series of movie-related options, like getting movie times for your neighborhood, or checking for the soundtrack at Reel.com. Find a selection of text that you like — an interesting quote, maybe? Highlight it, save it to the Deepleap web site. Useful tools, when you need them.

Obviously, we can always use more tools, and we plan to keep expanding our available tool set. One of the things we’re working on is an XML-RPC interface so that people can hook tools like Blogger and Manila Express (or whatever else it is they use) right into Deepleap, so that the people who want to can use their own tools through Deepleap can. Because it’s a platform for contextual content exchange, and everybody should be able to develop for it. 🙂

Anyway, we’re going to keep working on the site text and the product description until we’ve got it down pat, and have made it as easy and quickly comprehensible as possible. A big part of the reason we wanted to get the beta out ASAP was in order to see how people reacted, what the “got” and didn’t get, what they use and don’t use, and retool accordingly.

Thanks for talking about us!

Lane

That is pretty amazing stuff. We don’t even have many of those features 6 years later! HINT HINT. This company would seem to be on the 101 to success. Sadly, while looking into Deepleap more, I came across this.

The party’s over for web assistant company Deepleap. CEO Lane Becker mailed their registered users yesterday saying “Unfortunately, sometimes things just don’t work out.”

Deepleap’s web-based assistant program enabled annotation, bookmarking and contextual e-commerce/search opportunities, via the use of a “bookmarklet”. Of interest to metadata fans was their deepleap.xml file, which promised to get web site authors creating more site metadata.

Sadly, things haven’t gone quite right. Becker writes:

It’s with a sad heart that we tell you the bad news: effective Friday, Sept. 1, 2000, Deepleap will be shutting down. Effective this Friday, August 25, we’ll be permanently disabling the browser tool, but you will still be able to get your personal information off the site until the end of the month. But make sure you get it before Sept. 1, when we turn everything off and all the servers turn back into pumpkins.

Becker goes on to explain that if someone buys the technology, users will be asked if they want their data handed to the new owners.

Only four months later the company was folding. Why? Does anyone have any knowledge of what happened to bring them down? I know that Lane Becker is still doing fine. Cofounding Adaptive Path never hurt anybody. But still, it seemed like there was so much potential there.

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