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A new way of looking at “birthers”

A few years back, I was referred to a web-based tool that displayed Google API results as a graphical image of a small slice of the World Wide Web. You could put in a URL and it would show the web site as a box in the middle of the screen with lines spreading out to other boxes that linked to the center box. You could specify a few levels and see these neat linked clusters of related sites. The technology was called “TouchGraph” and one site that implements it for hyperlinked web sites is at TouchGraph.com. Double-click on a node to expand it. With such a graphic display the viewer can visualize how websites related to each other, and sometimes you’ll find things you didn’t expect.

In researching this article I found a number of other web search tools that go beyond basic search listings1, either with graphic displays or through clustering results in some way. Here are some of the ones that gave useful or at least interesting results. I’ll be back to some of them in the future when exploring the Birther universe.

The first was the Cluuz search. I used Cluuz to search for keyword “birther” and it seemed to understand a little about birthers. It highlighted Orly Taitz and Donald Trump, for example. The site lets you just search news, or the entire Web. It pointed out some articles I was familiar with, and some interesting ones I hadn’t seen. Some of the site features don’t seem to work.

The Constellations web site works somewhat like TouchGraph. It’s visually somewhat confusing, but I can see the linkages well enough. The mouse wheel scrolls in and out, and you can highlight linkages by hovering the mouse pointer over the site. Here’s the cluster results for BirtherReport.com. Some of the site features don’t seem to work.

IBoogie is just a search engine; however, it clusters subtopics together and returns pretty clean results.

PolyMeta is another graph of related search terms. Click on “Topics Graph” to get the graphic window to pop up – it takes a while the first time. It alternately displays subtopics in a tree like IBoogie.

I searched for “Birther” at the Spezify web site and was presented with an interesting collage of web page images on the subject, including an image from BirtherThinkTank and some neat cartoons.

The UMLS Visualizer uses similar technology to TouchGraph, but works on semantic relationships rather than hyperlinks. Unfortunately “birther” isn’t one of the topics it understands. You can type in “paranoia” and then expand the node (by clicking on the blue box). Be sure to check the box “All relations” before you start. Visuwords is another semantic graphic site that doesn’t understand “birther.”

The Wiki Summarizer works with the Wikipedia to organize topical information for ease of research in a tree view. Give it a try and click the “+” to expand the results.


1Google is retuning around 3.6 million hits for “birther” these days.

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