What’s web 2.0? According to an old joke, for a site to be a web 2.0 startup, it needs to be in beta and have a strange hard-to-pronounce name. With hundreds of so-called web 2.0 startups popping up daily, this joke actually describes the reality. But not everything is that bad. There are still new projects that do have something unique and innovative to offer. I tried to pick those 4 standing out in the crowd that have emerged in 4 different niches:

  • search engines;
  • social networking;
  • social bookmarking and annotating;
  • user-generated content.

Compare CognitionSearchCompare CognitionSearch is a new enhanced semantic search engine.

Key feature: search Wikipedia using semantic search technology.

What’s so innovative about CognitionSearch? The tool allows to compare their search results with the "simple" search (i.e. Google. Yahoo, and MSN) giving a better idea of what behind the semantic search technology is and how it is different from the conventional or "simple" search. The difference is graphically represented showing you the overlap and the number of unique results for both cognition and simple search. What’s more, it shows you which exactly meaning of the term(s) searched the comparison was based on.

PeopleJar.com is a social search and connection tool that allows people from all over the world to find each other based on a huge number of searching parameters.

Key features:

  • people are connected and found through networks of interests;
  • people can create, host and promote their resumes (example: makeup artists job profiles).

What’s so innovative about PeopleJar.com?

  • it is both user-generated and highly focused:
    • there is only one network per interest (there is only network for screenwriting, for example) – that makes connecting even easier and more effective;
    • it is moderated (networks and attributes are added by users but should be approved by moderators first to filter out duplications);
  • it has a highly customizable search engine:
    • you can choose to search by any combination of relevant attributes;
    • you can create your own search and let the system update you of new members matching your search criteria;
  • it creates a new concept of social connecting versus social networking: the site is not about socializing online but about building new (business, personal) relationships.

middlespotMiddlespot: ok, we’ve seen hundreds of visual search engines, meta search engines and so on. But this one positions itself as a smart search engine combining bookmarking and sharing featurs.

Key features:

  • see screenshots of each page in the search results;
  • save and annotate individual results you in a "workpad".

What’s so innovative about Middlespot?

  • it allows for many options and requires no registration;
  • it lets you share your workload on your blog or personal page (multiple customization options are available).

Wordia Wordia is a user generated dictionary (see Urban Dictionary if you can’t imagine what it can be compared to). While the site database is comparatively small, the site is a real fun to use.

Key feature: compare user-generated definitions with the ones provided by official dictionaries (Collins dictionary).

What’s so innovative about Wordia? The site allows people to create video definitions for any word (see an example: philosophy).