One of the newer tools Google has developed, Wonder Wheel, has taken on the idea of clustering results of searches into related groups. This is a great tool which enables the breakdown of a broad search into more and more specific keywords, and can assist in the refinement of searches. (But not the only one – see below.)
To use Wonder Wheel, you begin with your search term at Google. Once this is entered, you have to select ‘show options’ on the left, and move down to select the option ‘Wonder wheel’. This will then display a visual of related topics, which can help to narrow your search. You can continue to dig down into these topics, as they become more specific to your needs, or click back out to where you began. This is demonstrated in the short video clip below:
New idea? well, not really…
The idea of grouping related search terms is not new, however, and was used in the past by the search engine, Mooter. (Did Google buy this out?) It is also still used by the search engine, Clusty, which has a few other options which may also be of interest to those wishing to refine their searches.
A comparison of ‘Wonder wheel’ and ‘Clusty’:
(Note: these are part-page images, both display lists of sites on the search page as well)
1.’Cloning’ search on Wonder wheel…
2. ‘Cloning’ search on Clusty provides a clustering or grouping of related terms, which can also help you to dig down further. The + sign indicates a folder which can be opened, the number tells how many hits within the group.
3. A further option in Clusty allows is to select results from a particular type of site (click on ‘sites’ tab, and select ‘edu’):
So, there are other options available to help refine a search for more specific information, or to help brainstorm an idea to more specific keywords and concepts. The choice is yours.
Contrasting comments on Wonderwheel:
1. “You can follow each connection in the Wonder Wheel, which then sprouts its own set of spokes. I quickly lost my place. I’ve seen other tools like this before and can say, unequivocally, I never get anything out of them. Please, Google, don’t waste our time with this stuff.” From: 12 technologies I hate, http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2349277,00.asp (N.B. This writer does not like graphic search tools.)
2. An alternate point of view: “I honestly believe this will take some of the “getting lost in the web” problems all students face and also help teachers to guide students through a more successful search. With any luck, even students as young as third grade will be able to start making successful Google searches with the Wonder Wheel.” From: Google Features That Make Teachers’ Lives Easier Part 2 – Wonder Wheel and Timeline, http://tinyurl.com/yjw84yc