Posted Under: Product Development
Our clustering engine has always been among our customers’ favorite features. We introduced the feature and its tremendous value in discovering documents in our “Clusters That Think” article.
One of the most interesting features of our Explorit search product is our clustering engine, which analyzes results and produces “clusters” that represent a new and powerful way to navigate search results. The true power of these clusters is often overlooked, for they superficially resemble the output generated by the keyword-based systems and fixed taxonomies of other search engines. Our clustering technology, however, is more akin to a document-discovery engine, which provides a significant improvement over the alternatives in the library world.
Clustering is particularly powerful because, as our original article on the subject explains, “users think in concepts, not keywords.” Extending this line of thinking, we believe that many people think in pictures and not in lists and sublists of text so we introduced visual clustering to our Explorit feature set.
Here is a screenshot of a visual cluster of results for the search term “satellite communications.”
By clicking on the “Visual” link at the top of the cluster window, you can switch from the default outline view to a view that displays the five topics with the greatest number of results and the five sub-topics with the most results for each of the main topics. As you would expect, all of the areas of the circle of results are clickable and update the set of results you see to the right of the cluster. You can click on any of the triangles to see a third level of clusters. And, for those of you who prefer the outline view or want to dive deeper than two levels, you get that view by default or you can switch back to it by clicking the “Topics” link at the top of the cluster window. Whichever view you pick you get the same results so you needn’t be concerned about missing out regardless of which view you select.
This visually intuitive feature has been remarkably well received. You can give visual clustering a spin at our medical research application, Mednar, and at the science portals Science.gov and WorldWideScience.org as well.