• United States

Grokker2 groks searches

Mar 01, 20043 mins
Enterprise Applications

* Grokker2 visual navigation tool for Web searches

“Grok” used to be a common word in the computer industry but it seems to have fallen out of favor over the last few years. If you aren’t familiar with the term, it means “to understand something so well that it is fully absorbed into oneself” (before you start to wonder whether you were asleep in English 101 “grok” is a made-up word that first appeared in “Stranger in a Strange Land,” a science fiction novel by Robert Heinlein).

I bring up the word because it is the root of the also made-up word, Grokker2, a product that I got my hands on at last month’s Demo 2004 show (see links below). Allow me to digress and note that Demo was fantastic, a unique industry event and I strongly recommend that you try to attend Demo 2005. In fact, over the next few weeks I’ll be covering some of the Web applications related products I saw there.

Grokker2, from Groxis, is a visual navigation tool for Web searches. Grokker2’s presentation method is to group search results in hierarchical circles or squares using results extracted from “the Web” (a selection of general search engines currently including MSN, AltaVista, Teoma, Fast, WiseNut, and Yahoo!), Google, Amazon, or your local files (which relies on the Windows indexing service).

The default Grokker2 interface is dominated by two panes: The zooming space which displays the graphical presentation of the search results and the browsing space which is an embedded Internet Explorer control that displays the result currently selected in the zoom window. Surrounding these panes are controls at the top to enter search terms and configure the presentation and filters at the bottom.

You can also select Grokker2 interfaces that are just the zoom space or just the browsing space and you can hide or show the filters and controls.

I ran a search on Feb. 23 for “Demo 2004” using the Web and got 1,207 items that Grokker2 classified into 498 categories. Grokker2 then ranked those categories to figure out how they are related hierarchically. My search wound up with 12 top-level categories.

Clicking in a category (shown a circle or square) zooms in to show the items that can be subcategories or URLs (subcategories and URLs can be in multiple categories). Clicking outside of a category zooms you out to the level above.

The presentation is color-coded and you can filter for specific text, by ranking, by domain (commercial, network, non-profit, etc., – this depends on the domains that Grokker2 identifies), and or source (individual search services).

The circle-based representation is the most visually appealing and watching Grokker2 build the image is rather like watching some kind of a colonial animal reproducing under a microscope.

Grokker2’s search presentation is extremely effective providing an efficient way to home in on useful results – indeed, it lives up to the concept of “grokking” very well. My only complaints are that the product doesn’t support any kind of export or printing of results. Grokker has announced a Professional version due later this year so maybe my wishes will be granted. Or grokked.


Mark Gibbs is an author, journalist, and man of mystery. His writing for Network World is widely considered to be vastly underpaid. For more than 30 years, Gibbs has consulted, lectured, and authored numerous articles and books about networking, information technology, and the social and political issues surrounding them. His complete bio can be found at

More from this author