Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Thursday, October 31, 2002

Personal Knowledge Mapping Tool

= interesting, promising
Software Tool (Win)
Preview soon available N/A

Knowledge mapping is the discipline that is concerned with the design and engineering of technologies that allow advanced organization, filtering and management of information in visual ways.

The PARC or the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center is one of the key research centers having done extensive research in this area and from which an interesting company was born: Inxight Software, which has been developing very advanced tools for information visualization. I remember in particular my first meeting with hyperbolic maps which were made available in one of their first products.

Early on even Alta Vista, one of the first popular Internet search engines, offered a "refine" feature that allowed a graphical view of the search results obtained after the query.

Many other interactive tools have been explored here at MasterMind, which allow the effective navigation of visual information spaces. Among these I must mention Kartoo the visual search engine (,,, the PlumbDesign visual Thesaurus at, and WebBrain ( just to name a few.

While so far none of these visualization and information navigation tools has achieved significant commercial success, great interest still surrounds this field as much of the future management of information will take place through visual means.

In this light it comes as refreshing news to know that beta testing is just over at Groxis for a new fascinating information mapping tool that will be released in its first public preview version any day now.



Shortly in fact Grokker Preview Release 1.0 will be made available to anyone signing up at the site. According to the company: "Grokker builds precise and detailed knowledge maps containing visual cues and relationships between the data. The map itself contains powerful metadata that vividly describes the "nature" of the data collection. The Grokker product enables map generation and the ability to collaborate, extend, edit, delete, save, and share any attribute or subset of the map."

Groxis, the company behind Grokker, is named after a term found in "Stranger in a Strange Land," a science-fiction masterpiece by Robert Heinlein. To "grok" means to "understand something completely".

The reference is driven home by the fact that today, according to the Groxis designers, 84 percent of Web surfers go no further than the first page of document titles in searching for information.

Search results displayed in a visual format become easy to navigate, and the resulting knowledge maps can be saved, shared, edited by end users.

Grokker will offer also an innovative and alternative approach to navigating information that should make access quicker and easier. In my opinion, Grokker could also be effectively used for research and information mining projects.

The basic ideas underlying the Groxis technology were developed by Jean-Michel Decombe, a French computer researcher who had worked in the 90s for the Silicon Valley start-up Metacode, which was developing automatic categorization technologies. Mr. Decombe is now Groxis's chief technology officer.

Different from traditional search engines and other tools capable of navigating large bodies of information, Grokker builds a visual map of the general categories into which documents fall by using what computer software designers call metadata, which provides detailed information about the content or document being displayed (author, date, category of interests, keywords, abstract, target audience, etc.).

At present Grokker has been enabled to work not only with any end user content collection but also with the Northern Light search engine and the Amazon online catalogue.

Presently you can only sign up at The Grokker web site to be notified of the imminent Preview Release of version 1.0.

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posted by Robin Good on Thursday, October 31 2002, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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