A number of people have mentioned Google’s “Wonder Wheel” – a mind map-like view of search results that you can use to drill down into related words, phrases and concepts. So I finally broke down and took a look at it. My verdict: it has some real possibilities as a search navigation tool.
As a test, I did a search on the phrase “mind map.” You access Wonder Wheel from the menu of search enhancements that are located in a vertical pane on the left side of your browser window. The first “mind map” displayed by Google’s Wonder Wheel shows the term “mind map” in the center, surrounded by 7 related terms. So I clicked on the one marked “mind map diagrams.” The search results animated to display another hub connected to the first one, with subtopics arrayed in radial style around it. Each of them contain links to those terms as well.
Wonder Wheel displays up to 3 levels of topics in a single visual view. The experience reminded me of navigating through a PersonalBrain map: when you click on a topic, the entire map rotates to place it in the center of view. It also displays the “path” that you took to get to where you are now.
The Wonder Wheel view dominates the center of the browser screen, while the right third of the page is devoted to standard text-based Google search results for the presently-selected search term. It was nice to be able to see both views of the same information side by side.
At this point in time, Wonder Wheel’s display is very rudimentary in appearance, but I can see this beta application growing in sophistication over time. Why not give it a try during your next Google search? I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
What do you think of the idea of displaying search results in visual form like this? Is it useful, or just an intriguing bit of “eye candy?” Please share your comments below!