Organizing Web Research with Linkwok

There are many ways to organize your research as you move across the Web.  Visual researchers will want to take a look at Linkwok.  You save your search results onto a large canvas, where you can group and create relationships between the results, add annotations, and then save and share them with others.

You start by searching at Linkwok.  Unfortunately, it defaults to Bing but you can select Google and DuckDuckGo as well.  There are also searches over Youtube and Wikipedia, but those are unlikely to be very useful for the average legal researcher.  One immediate benefit of using a search layer like this is that it will eliminate any personalized search results on Google that may skew your research.

Once you have executed your search, the results page comes up with a white canvas beside it.  You drag relevant results on to the canvas.  You will see, in the bottom right hand corner, the full canvas and dots showing where you have dropped results.  It means that, like a Prezi presentation, you can zoom in and out on particular parts of the results.  If you are making something to share with others, you can also add backgrounds.

Linkwok search results on Google related to Microsoft IIS rewrites.  There is a world silhouette background.

Linkwok search results on Google related to Microsoft IIS rewrites. There is a world silhouette background.

The results pop in and out.  Once you’ve run the search against one engine, you can choose another from the dropdown menu without re-typing your search.  The results you drag out onto your canvas can be grouped, moved around, and connected to one another.  The screenshot above shows my grouping – once a group is created, you can just drop new results onto it.  When you hover your mouse pointer over a result or a label box, a small dot will appear as well as a hamburger menu.  Between them, you get options to edit, connect, group, or delete.

You can save and share your results by logging in.  Fortunately, you can use a Google or other social media account rather than creating a new account solely for Linkwok.  The interface for the site is clean and intuitive and I cringe at the thought of how complicated their CSS and javascript must be to pull this off. There is also an irritating Wizard feature but those just aren’t my taste; it does seem informative.

 

During at least one visit to their site, I was unable to get anything to happen.  It’s not clear to me why the site would suddenly work and then stop.  I ran this search, successfully:

accretion site:scholar.google.com

to see if I could return just a set of cases on accretion rights from Google’s Scholar site.  The results weren’t, as you’d expect, just cases because you can’t set that limit from the site: search segment.  But when I re-ran the search for

accretion “arkansas supreme court” site:scholar.google.com

the search wouldn’t execute and Linkwok’s lovable samurai remained bowing its head.  It would be useful to have some error message or feedback if this is due to the search.  But I’m guessing it’s due to the interface.

The concept behind Linkwok is attractive.  I’ve written about other research notebooks but the use of the canvas and relationships between results is a nice enhancement.  You can do this sort of thing with Evernote and OneNote of course, but not in such a visual format.

A lawyer or law student could complete research on a topic and group results based on an element of a crime, for example, or based on parties to an action or other chronological or statutory- or contactual-specific language.  Its reliance on Google and Bing make it potentially useful for gathering open source intelligence on companies and individuals for business purposes.