A Fantasy App

I often find several stories I collect off the web are related in some way, though not necessarily explicitly so, and I’d like to have some tool that would allow me easily to show and share those connections and realtionships–not just the documents themselves…A cross between mind mapping and social bookmarking, I think.

Here’s an example of what I’d like to be able to do. I have three stories each addressing different but related ideas:

I’m interested in each of these stories for themselves: I use Google and have my students use it, too; I’ve been connected to the journalism business for a long time; and I work in education. But right now I’m more interested in the light these three different stories throw on the nature of revolution in thought–in general. That’s the information that will give me insights on the way web 2.0 technology affects my own industry, education.

I’ve tagged them in Delicious as I would normally do, but as you can see these tags don’t really show how I see they’re related. (The “demo” tag is just a way to get the three bookmarks together on one page.)

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I suppose I could created a special tag, but it wouldn’t give me the granularity I want: what part of each of these stories connects it to the others? Twine is a great tool for finding and sharing information and for gathering things into collections, but it has the same limitations in this regard as Delicious. Diigo let’s me highlight and comment on web pages–a terrific feature. But if I want to show how the highlighted portion connects to some other piece, I need to cut and paste the URL for the second story into Diigo’s comment box. Then, I have to do the same in reverse so that the two pieces are linked. This quickly becomes unwieldy with three or more pages all connecting to each other.

I want a way to illustrate easily the way I connect these stories. Sometimes, I want to do this for specific reason. When I’m writing a paper, for example, this helps me assemble evidence for my arguments. Often, though, I just like to be able to see what I know, so to speak.

Webspiration, my favourite online mind-mapping tool, comes close to making my wish come true. I can make any symbol into a hyperlink, but it takes some clicking and some copying and pasting of URLs to make that happen. Here’s a diagram I made in about 15 minutes:

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But I’d love to be able to drag and drop web pages from my browser’s address bar onto a Webspiration-like canvas, just like I can drag and drop pages onto my desktop. If a window then popped up allowing me to add tags and descriptions that would be even better; perhaps the tags would also colour-code the graphic/link so I could have a visual cue to the categories or tags I’m exploring. If the dropped url showed a thumbnail, something like Apple’s Coverflow, even better still.

Finally, I’d like all of this to be sharable and searchable.

2 Comments

  1. Reply
    Toby Graham March 23, 2009

    Good point…there’s no real clean way to show how disparate posts are interconnected out there. Great new ideas, and some interesting ways to use Webspiration. I’ve passed your suggestions along to our developers. Keep the suggestions flowing!- Toby with Webspiration

  2. Reply
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