The Economist, Hyperwords & the Clickable Universe

Lately I’ve been selecting one story each week that is so worth spending time with I recommend actually printing it out on paper.

I nearly chose Rummaging Through the Internet, from the Economist, but then I caught myself. It’s important to read–but vital that you don’t print it out.

The story takes a look at some emerging technologies that enhance browsing, mostly with 3-D functionality. These are great tools, several of them new to me.

But before the article gets to the 3-D stuff, it introduces something else I wasn’t familiar with, a Firefox (3.0!) add-on called Hyperwords. This utility among many other things turns every word in a story into a hyperlink–without the annoying underline and colored font.

As you browse, select any word and a small menu pops up, offering a bewildering range of actions you can take regarding that word. But the money feature here is the ability to highlight a word–like, say, Hyperwords–then click on Hyperwords/Search/Google first result. . .and up pops a visual of the site represented by the word.

Hyperwords in action

It’s a cool utility, with all of the neat features and bloatware excesses of most.

Still, the reason I mention it is this: The Economist article about all this neat new browsing functionality  has no hyperlinks [shake head here at how mainstream publishers whose businesses are collapsing due to the web don’t take even the most rudimentary actions to optimize their content for the web].

So: Install the Hyperwords Firefox plug-in, then read the Economist article.

Select the name of a 3-D browser mentioned in the story you want to check out, click on it as if it’s a hyperlink using Hyperwords, and you’ll go directly to the page. For instance, highlight PicLens, a CoolIris product, and here’s what you get to in one click:


Otherwise, you’d have to go do a Google search on the product name, click on it, lose your place in the Economist article, hate life briefly, etc.

Anyhow, the Economist article is a good one, but it’s worthless online unless you download the Hyperwords tool it writes about in order to easily access the other cool tools it cites. (Do make sure you check out SpaceTime whether you read the Economist article or not).

And ask yourself:

How could a medium as web-stupid as the Economist co-exist in the same digital universe as these advanced technologies it writes about?

And which of them do you think will own the future?

Explore posts in the same categories: browsers, magazines, print-to-digital

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3 Comments on “The Economist, Hyperwords & the Clickable Universe”

  1. […] can read the rest of this blog post by going to the original source, here […]

  2. Lee Lorenzen Says:

    Your point was very interesting about how ironic it is that the Economist can write about the importance of linking to information and yet have no actual links.

    You also seemed to catch the key benefits of a new category of search that we call “selection-based search.” This is in contrast to the “browser-based search” category of which Google is clearly the master. I particularly liked your phrasing in regards to “losing your place, hating life briefly, etc.”:


    Given your interest in Hyperwords, I wanted to make you and your readers aware of our product KallOut, which is the first “selection-based search” application to deliver results in the context of any e-mail, document, presentation, spreadsheet or web page.

    Unlike Hyperwords which is limited to Firefox and web pages, KallOut is a desktop-level download that provides instant access to the best the web has to offer when you’re in the midst of an e-mail or word document, etc. In addition, KallOut offers BestGuess™ menu suggestions that are based on both detailed analysis of the text selected and the “wisdom of crowds” as expressed by other users’ choices. This saves you the time of navigating a long menu when our algorithms can take you quickly to most likely destination based on an analysis of your selection.

    Please check out for the brief video demonstration and also the examples at .

    Lee Lorenzen
    CEO, KallOut, Inc.

  3. Ben Rogers Says:

    I’ll give the Economist the benefit of the doubt. I suspect what they’re doing is intentional and based on the not-erroneous belief that eyes flow to interesting content … SEO-be-damned. Folks pay a lot of money for well-crafted throwbacks like wind-powered yachts, leather-bound books, even wooden cabins, even though the updated versions of all three are often demonstrably “better” by some measurement.

    And it doesn’t seem to be hurting them.

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