'Smart folders' push movie on the Web

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has thumbed a ride with a new technology to sustain buzz for the movie, which is currently playing in theaters nationwide.

Visitors to the movie's website can download what looks like a Windows folder but with a twist: It pushes photos, news and other Hitchhiker content to users' desktops. Smart Folders was developed by Blinkx, a small Silicon Valley startup that makes search engine software.The tool lets a user create a topic folder that populates itself with relevant documents from the user's PC and the Internet. For website owners, the folder acts as a tool to distribute their content.

Hitchhiker Executive Producer Robbie Stamp says one of the movie's marketing goals is to generate interest among people unfamiliar with the witty science fiction novels upon which the Disney film is based. "We're quite clearly reaching out beyond the existing fan base to a whole generation that is just discovering Hitchhiker. It will be an extremely useful tool as new fans come on board," he says.

The ability to use the familiar folder to maximize online syndication convinced Stamp the technology was a good way to reach a broad swath of potential fans online. "Everybody has folders on their desktops. Smart Folders offers a user-friendly way for people to do what the more technically minded among us have already done with RSS feeds," he says.

Smart Folders scores on three important success metrics for online content distribution, says Yankee Group analyst Patrick Mahoney: It is easy to set up and use, works automatically and delivers personalized information. Each folder also offers consumers a tool to stay on top of the topics they're interested in online, Mahoney says.

Stamp's enthusiasm for the technology is palpable. "I love the thought of giving fans a way to very quickly and easily stay in touch with the movie," he says. "I'm a great lover of peer-to-peer technology. Anything with that capability of disseminating information is an enormously significant tool."

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