Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Friday, February 7, 2003

Visually Navigate Information Spaces and Taxonomies

Visual Thesaurus 2
= must have
Online Demo (Win & Mac)

The people at Thinkmap Inc. have recently released a new revamped version of their uniquely fascinating Visual Thesaurus.

The Visual Thesaurus is a fully working interactive visual information space that allows the user to easily and intuitively find alternative nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs to any word being input.

This new version showcases an absolutely beautiful design interface and some functional refinements that make it even more useful and compelling than its own predecessor.

The Visual Thesaurus can be considered to be both a language exploration tool as well as an experiment in interface and navigation design. It allows to intuitively explore, study, and analyze the structure of language and the relationships among words.

By providing access to the relationships between words and meaning the Visual Thesaurus provides a way of converting language into a visible structure that can be evaluated according to new parameters and criteria.

Alternative words are displayed as floating elements connected to the reference word sitting in the center of your screen. Any of the alternative words can be clicked and made to become the new reference around which all other possible alternatives will float.

The user is also with the ability to filter relevant alternatives by selecting only nouns, verbs, adjectives or adverbs. Or for that matter any combination of them.

The Visual Thesaurus keep also an history track of the words that one submits and provides an easy way to navigate back and forth through them.

The new Visual Thesaurus now incorporates several controls which significantly enhance the overall usability and effectiveness of this highly innovative tool.

Some new controls provides the user with the ability to precisely fine tune many of the display facilities (size of words, speed, 3D viewing, and more) while others take care of the relationships between words displayed (one can choose to see alternative words which are attributes or similar to the reference word but to exclude simultaneously antonyms of that same word.

I have used the Visual Thesaurus in many international workshops and seminars to demonstrate one of the great applications of technology to market and provide better access to academic information like courses, a library of books or multimedia, experts and faculty and more.

The Visual Thesaurus accesses data from WordNet, a publicly available lexical reference system developed by the Cognitive Science Laboratory at Princeton University. This database, contains over 50,000 words and 40,000 phrases collected into more than 70,000 sense meanings.

A well prepared User Guide with many visuals from the Visual Thesaurus can be accessed at: tour.html

The original Visual Thesaurus tapped only a small portion of the comprehensive WordNet database. The new Visual Thesaurus exposes more of the relationships between words and their meanings to reveal clusters of words and meanings related by underlying lexical concepts.

To see the classic (1998) version of the Thinkmap Visualthesaurus go to: classic/

The technology behind the Visual Thesaurus is based on a Java technology created by Plumb Design for data visualization.

The original goal at Plumb Design was to create dynamic interfaces to information systems that reveal interrelationships often obscured by conventional methods of navigation and information display.



The Thinkmap Visual Thesaurus is meant to provide a uniquely effective working example of how the Plumb Design Thinkmap engine can facilitate the creation of highly intuitive and easy to navigate information spaces.

The same data visualization engine powering the Visual Thesaurus has been utilized in several other interesting projects which are accessible on the Internet and deserving a serious stopover.

Here are three other great implementations of Plumb Design Thinkmap data visualization technology:

Sony Music Licensing contact/

EMP Digital Collection digitalcollection/index.asp

Revealing Things - Smithsonian Without Walls revealingthings/

Highly recommended.

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posted by Robin Good on Friday, February 7 2003, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.




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