Ask, Answer


It’s a knowledge provider. Period.

“I like knowledge,” said David Butnaro, owner of Askimo, a new international library of expert videos based in Tel Aviv, Israel, but soon to have an office in Maryland.

Butnaro has been working in the Internet industry for many years. He said he was drawn to the Web from its inception because he likes to have access to knowledge. A few years back, Butnaro had a revelation: “I have friends in many countries, and each
one is a library, an expert. … I have access to online knowledge, and I am in touch with people if I need anything I can’t find.”

So he decided to bring his two passions together. Askimo was born.

Askimo provides — or will provide — three main services.

One is a free library of four- to 10-minute interviews with experts from around the globe, speaking on issues about which they are most knowledgeable. It could be a tax law or a medical disease — knowledge that is practical and can help in daily life.

“It’s a cross between Wikipedia and Ted,” expl-ained Butnaro, noting that Wikipedia is all written (although transcripts of each Askimo video exist). Ted is just a speaker talking to the crowd. On Askimo, the expert is interviewed, ensuring he stays on target.

“The interviewer is a journalist or TV/radio personality who knows how to ask questions. Many experts have great knowledge, but it is difficult for them to look at a computer and say, ‘I am an exc-ellent psychologist, and I want to give you this knowledge.’ With the interviewer it is easier to bring the knowledge to the computer,” Butnaro said.

The second and newest offering is the live broadcast. Butnaro has his studio set up in Tel Aviv to allow experts to put on mini-shows 24 hours per day.

The expert can log into the system and make a show, offering others to chat with him and ask questions during the production. The expert can also send out a live link to his family and friends and let them know to log in during the broadcast.

A third component, coming soon, is the ability to have access to the experts for one-on-one video consultation.

“If you are looking for information and didn’t find it in one of the interviews or you found an interview but want more information, you can consult with an expert,” Butnaro explained. This will come with a fee.

Currently, the platform has close to 3,000 videos in its library in languages ranging from English to Hebrew to French; 60 percent are in English. Butnaro said the feedback has been “wonderful,” that experts are asking to be filmed, and now he is working on opening offices in the U.S. and in London.

Locally, he has been working with the Maryland/Israel Development Center to find an office in the Silver Spring/Rockville area, where he could have easy access to Washington. He plans to invest in the same technology and equipment he has in Israel in his U.S. office and to hire an interviewer to get the project started. He also plans to begin a Jewish knowledge series, engaging rabbis around the world to answer questions about Jewish rituals and practice.

The average user? Someone middle-aged.

Noam Martin of New Jersey is a user. He stumbled upon Askimo when a friend posted a link to a video on Facebook. He ended up finding an interview on a topic he had been searching for some time: hyperthyroid disorder.

“The speaker was really cool,” said Martin. “It was explained by a doctor, but it was using everyday words — layman’s terms.”

Professor Dr. Eitan Friedman is one of the experts. He told the JT that Askimo is a great mode for people who want, in a nutshell, to get a bit of information. He said it’s better than a random Google search because the surfer knows that the information and experts have been vetted and the facts are accurate.

Friedman offers several videos that answer questions such as, “Is it valid to be immunized against cancer?”

“Is cell-phone use associated with cancer?” and “Why be genetically tested for the breast cancer gene?”

“People don’t have patience, they don’t have time to invest,” said Friedman. “You need immediate gratification.”

Check out Askimo at


Photo captions:
David Butnaro is considering opening a satellite office in Maryland for his new company,
(Photo Provided)


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