Key people: John Mercouris
Affiliation: Atlas Engineering
Internet is the ultimate repository of humanity’s data, representing a massive opportunity to develop information and knowledge within it.
Access to this information must be through web browsers, which have become essential. However, the functions of each browser are too limited for some tasks, especially those related to research in any field. They are like visiting the Alexandria Library with binoculars: it is almost impossible to see the whole picture.
From narrow vision, to expanding depth of field
With current browsers you cannot search through different pages; furthermore, the interface and the tools get in your way because they’re not designed for research.
That’s exactly the problem Nyxt Browser addresses. Nyxt Browser is a fully extensible power-browser, which changes the way users interact with the web via advanced data processing capabilities.
Nyxt Browser allows information extraction, research, and analytical review for more-efficient professional use cases: researchers, writers, and professionals whose productivity is limited by the tools that have access to.
Thanks to Nyxt Browser, these professionals, people helping make the world a better place, will have a powerful tool to make a real difference through a sophisticated web document manipulation and processing including switching between tabs by topic, URL and so on; instantly searching all URLs on a page by name or target; or searching through bookmarks with compound queries. That is the goal.
Nyxt Browser is not meant to browse,
It is meant to provide deep search capabilities for analysing information on the internet
Against fake news
Another issue Nyxt Browser wants to tackle is misinformation. It’s been apparent in the past years that verifying the validity of information is an increasing problem. Internet is a powerful tool that enables people to publish information. However, it comes at a price as it is not necessarily a trusted source of information.
How do you determine what is real or not? It is easy to spread misinformation. Some of Nyxt Browser’s features allow a semantic analysis of documents capable of revealing fallacies (black and white fallacy, i.e.) and validate citations. The tool allows the creation of a trustful website with a score for every citation, so the people sharing the citations can tell among the most reliable ones.
Nyxt Browser wants to play a leading role in a brand-new frontier: content analysis and augmentation of human knowledge by helping users understand and verify information.
Nyxt Browser wants to play leading role
in a brand new frontier
Next Browser right now
Nyxt Browser as a project is a moon shot. Developing a new niche-oriented web browser for a specific use case is not the best option for venture capital to invest in, so a public companion is key for Nyxt’s development.
For Nyxt Browser, public support spans from the funding provided by NGI Pointer to the relation with the open-source community, who has been using this tool for a year now and contributes in different manners to its development.
Right now, the browser is on its version 2.1.0, receiving comment and feedback about the code and features of the tool. Nyxt has room for improvement but it is being used by an increasing community that gathers around a dedicated forum.
The open-source community finds in Nyxt Browser a transparent project that can be audited. The project finds a community that is eager to collaborate to enhance the product.
Building the authority of Nyxt Browser is a milestone in the
development of the project.
To get there, open-source is the only way
Why NGI Pointer, what does it provide?
First of all, funding. It’s incredibly difficult to involve a private venture capital fund to develop a web browser because there is no clear monetization model for a project like this.
The task is overwhelming: to unseat existing browsers. These are free and developed by gigantic companies like Google, which builds exit barriers for the customer to prevent them from shifting away.
NGI allows pursuing projects like Nyxt Browser thanks to public funding.
Moreover, the public nature of the funding allows Nyxt to align itself with the spirit of the EU in defense of the user’s rights and privacy, keeping a longer vision and horizon when it comes to development and monetization.
Needs of strategic partners and collaborations
When it comes to contacts and strategic technological partners, Nyxt Browser code is only half of what you get. Once you enter the code, you can also produce a model.
The data used to feed into the neural network determines the shape of the neural network at the end so you can get a different model depending on the different data you enter.
The number one thing to cope with, technical wise for the project, would be to distribute a model without bias, making the project 100% transparent. No one has done this yet.
While the team figures something out, they have been using the so-called unsupervised learning. This means the system detects patterns without labeling the data.
The other urgent technical matter is to find more natural language processing facilities in Common Lisp, which is the programming language the browser is built on.
Role of Europe in Nyxt Browser‘s niche
Most of the software used by Nyxt Browser is European and so is the majority of the Common Lisp community.
In fact, this specific niche (Common Lisp programming) could be one of the few where Europeans lead the field and there are no main Chinese actors involved. This said, it is very small field.
In the big picture, Europe‘s position in the digital international context can be summed up in the fact that its main drawback can be considered its main advantage. Its conservative nature provides a safer, user-first approach environment despite Europe falling behind when it comes to supporting ground-breaking, seed-stage projects compared to the USA and China.
This applies particularly to European VC funds, who are more reluctant to invest in these kinds of projects. It is not a lack of money, technical skills or projects, it is simply a cultural bias.
Reaching the early adopters
The project leans on organic growth strategy using channels such as The Hackers News or very niche oriented Reddits for developers, where they have posted about new features of Nyxt Browser which early adopters can read about. It would also be interesting to have networking activities besides blogs as investment funds are more open to investing in groups of people building up the same technology.
Privacy: a problem solved
As mentioned before, the EU is concerned about the way bigger companies use customer’s data. GDPR came into place to solve this, but the other organisations are working on it too. NGI is backing projects that safeguard consumer’s information such as Nyxt Browser or others.
But what does it really mean? Privacy, from a philosophical point of view, is important because we’re concerned with context. An action out of context can be completely misjudged and the same happens with information. People can use information against you and weaponize it without taking into consideration the context.
Nyxt Browser not only improves the user’s experience online, but it also protects your privacy while other main browsers don’t.