instaGrok Versus Mainstream Search Engines
instaGrok is new to me and I’m thoroughly taken by the concept. Normally, I would use a mainstream search engine such as Google or Bing to find information on the internet. They are both remarkable tools giving anyone with internet access the world of information right at their fingertips. It”s an amazing piece of technology.
Not so very long ago, if I wanted to know things, I’d have to find a copy of the Yellow Pages, start calling phone numbers and asking a bunch of questions to a bunch of different people who may or may not understand them. It might have taken many frustrating hours to find the specific information I needed. Today, it’s nearly an instant process and does not have to involve the potentially unpleasant prospect of talking to an actual person. The world we live in…
Note: If you don’t know what The Yellow Pages are, you are probably too young to be reading this mature article.
Once you have chosen a search topic, within milliseconds you will be presented with a list of topics your particular search engine deems relevant. This list usually reaches into the millions of “hits”. While this approach is useful and generally a good one there are alternative ways of searching for the material your academic mind is craving.
Let’s go Grokking…
How to Grok
instaGrok uses a different approach from showing you a huge list. It uses a concept generally known as mind-mapping. According to Wikipedia,
A mind map is a diagram used to visually outline information. A mind map is often created around a single word or text, placed in the center, to which associated ideas, words and concepts are added. Major categories radiate from a central node, and lesser categories are sub-branches of larger branches.Categories can represent words, ideas, tasks, or other items related to a central key word or idea.
To show you a simple example of what to expect at instaGrok I chose to search for a topic well-known to DCT readers: “Windows 7”. This is the result of that search:
This is how a simple mind-map looks. The central node is our original search query. This is surrounded by sub-nodes related to the original. If you click on one of the sub-nodes, that will open a connected image with a further set of sub-nodes like this:
I chose the “Operating System” node. This opened up a whole new set of categories to choose from more closely related to this specific search. I think this is a great way to quickly find information starting with a more general search, then focusing on more and more specific areas you are interested in. Double-clicking on a node will send you back to the previous node.
The instaGrok interface is a lot of fun to navigate and the animation is a little eye-candy, too. While this is all very entertaining it wouldn’t be of much use if you couldn’t read about the information you seek. Something I haven’t shown you yet are the instaGrok lists that are generated when you click on the various nodes. Here’s a glimpse:
Just as mainstream search engines allow you to focus search results on images, videos, news, etc, so too does instaGrok. By using the provided tabs in the lists panel you will have a further method of fine-tuning your search. By combining the mind-map and the lists panel it becomes easy to quickly zero in on the information you seek.
I have barely touched upon all the potential provided by instaGrok. There is a lot of helpful material available at the instaGrok site including some tutorial videos to get you started.
“The riches lie inland and off the main trail.”
Don’t be afraid to explore in ways not necessarily followed by the mainstream, You may make wonderful discoveries oft overlooked by others. And, if you are blessed with offspring, I suggest you mention the prospect of ‘Grokking’ to them also. instaGrok is a terrific resource to help with those pesky school projects.
If you find uses for this unique search method, don’t be afraid to share them with us, I am eager to hear from you.