Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Thursday, July 27, 2000

Nano - Contextual-search tool

Nano (PC only)
= worth knowing
A good indication of the future convergence of search and e-commerce

Nano is a search tool designed to help you research various topics more easily, while claiming it will not bury you in piles of useless information and websites.
The idea behind Nano is kind of neat. Suppose you are reading an article on the web about the new Alfa Romeo, and you want to see what other options or information are available to you on the Internet for this subject. You would activate Nano, which takes a snapshot of whatever is on your screen and then in turn offers a list of various options of things you can do, other websites to visit, products you could buy related to your topic, and various reference venues.

Once you have downloaded Nano, it is easy to activate and use. If you are in a web page that contains information you would like to know more about, RIGHT CLICK with your mouse, and at the bottom of the list of options, Nano appears. After choosing Nano, it promptly begins to search for whatever information it can find. For a document, spread sheet, e-mail, or other application hold down the ALT key and LEFT CLICK with the mouse.

You can also narrow your search by highlighting a few words or phrases on your screen before activating Nano. It will then return only with information on the items that you have singled out, instead of everything on your screen. I did, however, have problems getting into Nano directly from a document, and it only seems to work with Word documents. I found I had to go first into the browser, activate the program, and only then could I use Nano in a document.

Nano offers help in four key categories: What to Read, What to Buy, What to Do, and Reference. These categories are what set Nano apart from an ordinary SE, as options like What to Buy give suggestions on books to purchase related to your topic, the What to Do category offers other programs that might be in some way related; all functions that no search engine attempts to do. With categories like this, Nano can be very helpful.



Nano is more useful as a general search tool. It is important to remember that it is an American based web program, and therefore its search results tend to reflect that American slant. I would not recommend Nano for an intense search on a detailed, little known subject. But for obtaining information for general research, Nano is an excellent place to start, especially with its ability to steer you towards other resources and tools.

Nano can be downloaded from
At this time, Nano is only available as a PC version for Internet Explorer. Mac and Netscape compatible versions are expected in the near future.

To be alerted of when these versions are available, please send your email address to or

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posted by Robin Good on Thursday, July 27 2000, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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