Thursday, May 03, 2007

For Language Lovers and Others

One of the big problems information seekers have is trying to figure out what words to use to describe a concept, topic, subject. English is messy; unlike some other languages which are more precise, we have many words to express a single idea.

I have been a great fan of the visual search in the EBSCO databases. If you haven't tried it, do so. Click on visual search; search a topic; see the articles categorized graphically by subject heading. Marylaine Block offered this site today which will be useful for novice searchers--it gives definitions and establishes connections between words and their use in the real world. It could be a great first step for students (and the rest of us) to learn both the denotation and connotations of topics/words they want to explore. Here's how Visuwords describes itself:

"Visuwords™ online graphical dictionary — Look up words to find their meanings and associations with other words and concepts. Produce diagrams reminiscent of a neural net. Learn how words associate.<>

<>Enter words into the search box to look them up or double-click a node to expand the tree. Click and drag the background to pan around and use the mouse wheel to zoom. Hover over nodes to see the definition and click and drag individual nodes to move them around to help clarify connections."

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