Taking an ambitious approach to filtering information online, Small Demons is a new site dedicated to opening up the worlds inside of books. Not just another search engine for what’s inside your favorite novel, Small Demons collects and catalogs the millions of references to real-world and fictional music, movies, people, and objects that are found in literature. Your new favorite restaurant could be on the next page of the book you’re reading, and Small Demons hopes to provide a place where you can draw meaningful connections between stories and everyday life.
The site uses both algorithms and human touch to make these links and open up what Small Demons calls a “Storyverse,” or the expanse of details that support a good story. “A computer can tell us how many times a song appears in a book. But it can’t tell us that it is the song that the couple dances to at the wedding reception or the song the jilted lover plays after being dumped. It can’t tell you the emotional resonance of it. So we are going to be relying on librarians and authors and gifted amateurs to come in and help us fix and add and weight and evaluate all the data we are generating,” says Richard Nash, the start-up’s VP of Community and Content.
Founded by former Yahoo Product VPs Valla Vakili and Tony Amidei, the original idea for Small Demons came to Vakili while on a trip to Madrid and Paris. He also happened to be reading Jean-Claude Izzo’s celebrated Mediterranean noir novel Total Chaos, the first book in the French author’s well-known Marseilles Trilogy. Vakili changed the Paris leg of his trip and headed to Marseilles, finding himself enchanted by the fact that he was enjoying the same scotch and walking down the same streets as the protagonist in Izzo’s book. The story in Total Chaos had a life beyond the page, and Vakili realized that many more books had the same experiences to offer.
Small Demons is currently in beta, and you can apply for an invite here.