Saturday, January 9, 2010

Saturday Specifics: VisuWords

Have you ever had to search for a definition, antonym, or synonym while you are working online? If you have, consider using VisuWords to quickly search in your browser navigation toolbar. This online web application will speed your research, so you can quickly return to the task at hand.

The most effective way to use VisuWords is to add its search engine tool to your Firefox browser. All you have to do is click the link on the VisuWords website that says "search tool" and it places the VisuWords search engine on your Firefox Navigation ToolBar. Yes, it's that easy.

VisuWords is an excellent example of a web application, or applet, that draws its information from metadata sources also located on the World Wide Web. I believe this application represents what Sir Tim Berners-Lee described as he imagined the semantic web, part of the natural progression within the World Wide Web.

This particular application, VisuWords, works by analyzing clusters of words based on specific algorithms that derive what the VisuWord developer, Paul Dunn, calls "synsets": sets of synonyms. The term "synset" was coined by the Princeton research group who developed the lexical database named WordNet that is the source database for VisuWords.

Some of the "synsets" that support VisuWords relate to the grammatical connections of the search target, such as nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc. Other associated "synsets" are also derived and presented in the resulting graphic organizer of the word you select in your VisuWord search.

The source code for VisuWords is available for download. so the applet could be a valuable learning tool for all the teachers, students, and community members who access your server. The VisuWords applet is based on the open source work of Princeton University's WordNet, an English language lexical database. You will also need to download WordNet. As always, please read and follow all licenses if you expect to use these effective online tools.

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