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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Visual Search with Grokker

Grokker is built on top of Yahoo's search engine, but it offers a very different display of search results. Taking a cue from set theory, it automatically categorizes search results into circles that represent categories with subcategories represented as smaller circles within (choose the "Map View" tab). Documents are the squares within the circles.

Taking it out for a test drive, I found it to give a very intuitive visual display of information. While a normal results list is very hard to absorb at a glance, Grokker allows you to quickly get a sense of the complete set of information displayed to home in on what you're looking for. I can see it used primarily as a research tool since it gives a good top-down view of results, allowing a researcher to identify groupings and get a comprehensive idea of the information set. By researcher, I don't just mean academics or students, but also by people conducting common everyday searches for broad topics like P2P or health foods. A very useful feature is the Add to Working List button, which allows you to set aside interesting links as you work through the results. The only downside is the slight delay as Grokker sorts the results into graphical form.



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