|As Carl Sagan might have put it, there are billions and billions of Web pages out there. So it comes as no surprise that the results lists from search sites are getting longer. That's given rise to a new breed of solutions to help manage the information overload. One of the most ambitious recent entries is a major update of Groxis' Grokker, a program that is now a useful adjunct to any major search engine.
Grokker 2.0 converts text lists of search results into a map of floating spheres and other graphical representations (see the photo, which shows a Grokker window after searching for "Wi-Fi"). You can drill down on each object individually, and each is labeled according to organizing principles, including date and context, so you get what amounts to a visual relational database that includes Web pages, documents, and pictures.
"We do it not just by putting the results in files and folders," says R.J. Pittman, CEO of Groxis, "but by using color, shape, size, position, and order." John Seely Brown, of Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center fame, helped develop Grokker 2.0.
The graphical approach lets you locate related information at a glance. Grokker now supports all the major search engines and can do custom, simultaneous searches as well as views of unstructured enterprise data. It also lets you rearrange results. Because it's a Java program, Grokker works on Windows and Apple systems.
Meanwhile, Chicago-based Dipsie is working on what it claims will be a more complete index of the Web than Google has. Dipsie promises to deliver more relevant results when it debuts later this year. No one is revealing exactly how it will work, but the Dipsie bot is already crawling the Web.