Friday, May 1, 2009


I heard about a new (for me) search engine today. It is called Grokker. The word "grok" is from Robert A. Heinlein's book "Stranger in a Strange Land" and is Martian for "to understand profoundly or intuitively." (

Grokker is search engine which retrieves, federates and clusters the your search returns. You can choose which sites you want to search: Yahoo, Wikipedia and/or Amazon. You can search all three at the same time if you want or any combination of them. After Grokker retrieves the information, it "federates" it, meaning it meshes it all together. Finally, it clusters the returns into categories.

What I really like about Grokker is the way they organize the information returned from the search. The information is actually organzied rather than a getting back a daunting list of 1.2 million hits. There is the Outline View (results from "grokking" Henry VIII), which breaks down the returns into categories. Click on the plus next to one of the categories and it will expand to show you all of the different subcategories. Map View is a visual representation of the return of hits. You can click on one of the circles and see the subcategories again. Click on Search Options and change the number of hits you will return. The default is 250, but you can request 500, 750 or 1,000. Have you ever looked at 1,000 Google returns? You can probably get most of the relevant information you need with just 250 returns. Finally, you can limit your results by using the tools on the left side of the screen.

Grokker is great in that it helps you easily redefine your search and understand your results. You can "grok" a fairly broad topic and Grokker helps you narrow your search. It saves you going through those 1.2 million hits.

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