Visualized Search Results

There was a period about 2 or 3 years ago where it was common to see search results represented in a visual way, whether as radial nodes or some other mechanism.  Visual search today usually means “search for images”, which is an entirely different thing.  I was scanning this area recently and was glad to see Vionto, formerly known as Eyeplorer, was still doing something interesting.

You can run a keyword search on their site by typing in your query, or dragging one of their topics onto the search box.  Unfortunately, the search universe appears to be only Wikipedia.  It is interesting to see what the possibilities might be, though.  You can rotate the search results to increase or decrease the slices of pie, each of which is a category like science, people, organization, or work.  It reminds me a bit of Trivial Pursuit!  You can click on any of the items in the pie slice to see details.  Each item is weighted by size to show relevance.

You can see the results for “Rule against perpetuities” below.  There are some misspelled terms – like “cy pres” coming out as “cy prs” – which means there’s some dirty data in Wikipedia.  You can see relationships more clearly by clicking on an item and clicking on the relationship button that appears.

Rule Against Perpetuities search results, including misspelled "cy pres doctrine"
Rule Against Perpetuities search results, including misspelled “cy pres doctrine”

It’s value is pretty low for legal research, unless you’re really starting from scratch on a topic.  It gives me hope that real visualized search will continue to bubble along.  Companies like Fastcase have moved into this area and it seems to me that some researchers benefit from seeing relationships or relevancy of more than 10 results at a time in a text search results page.

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