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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Visual Representations of Web Links Using TouchGraph

TouchGraph is one of the cooler sites I've seen for exploring connections between web sites. When I wanted to see, for example, which sites linked to mine, I simply typed in the URL of my main blog ( and was instantly shown the sixty or so sites that link to it. The main screen shows this graphically, while the smaller screen to the left lists the sites by relevance, and also allows me to click each link in turn for a synopsis.

Topics, rather than specific sites, can also be entered. In a search for Ancient Egypt, for example, we're presented with a pretty tightly clustered collection of sites. These in turn can be spaced apart (using the Spacing slider in the top right), or individually clicked to expand further. Similar sites are grouped together. Sites that simply pay for higher search results typically won't show up unless they have the content to make them relevant.

I've used TouchGraph to check my own sites to see that they're not linking to, or being linked from, inappropriate sites. But I can absolutely see its value as a search tool for students, particularly when they know one site that has the type of information they're seeking. Entering that site name or URL here, versus the go-to Google search, seems to be a lot more productive.


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