I have been thinking a lot lately about saving, tagging, storing and retrieving web information and research. And, while I use a number of different tools to to meet these needs, I just discovered a new one with a different wrinkle – a desktop application that saves and stores your browsing history in the form of screen shots and searchable text. Hooeey Webprint (link here) is a free beta tool that works in the background to save and store the sites you visit. Every web page is captured in real time as a screenshot and as searchable full text, archived on your own computer. Store, search, tag and share web pages that you visit and they stay in Hooeey even if you delete or erase your browsing history.
The original Hooeey service allowed recall of past browsed pages and a central place to store links, much like any run of the mill bookmarking tool. Hooeey Webprint is definitely different – creating a firmer repository of web information which you can organize and search in a very customized way, independent of your browsing experience. Hooeey webprint also can store the user’s web library on a number of different storage services such as Google Docs, Zoho, Amazon S3 and of course, on Hooeey webprint’s own cloud.
There is added functionality if you pay. Hooeey’s tiered offerings breakdown as follows:
Even the free service has something to offer, particularly if you tend to do most of your browsing on a single computer. But even the paid version might be worth the money to a heavy-duty web researcher. Think about this: your virtual research assistant unobtrusively hanging by your elbow, marking down every web page as you browse, without you having to be interrupted to fill in bookmarking and tagging information, accessible from every computer you use. Might be the death of the legal pad after all.
Yet another cool writing tool, this one with a great deal of visual panache, SnappyWords (link here) is a free, online dictionary with a twist. Enter your desired word and get the word, and its synonyms and antonyms in a floating image. Hover over any of the words and get the definition. A thesaurus and dictionary wrapped up into one graphic interface.
Once the words branch off the main query, you can double click a node to find other related words. Then, place the mouse cursor over a word to view the meaning, double click a node from the branch to view other related words, scroll the mouse wheel over words to zoom in or out. Click and drag a word or branch to move it around and explore other branches. Check it out – it’s a lot of fun. Plus it is a great resource to help you vary your written language in posts, articles, briefs, memos and papers.
Snappy Words queries the WordNet lexical database developed by Princeton University for students and language researchers. According to the site, “this dictionary groups synonyms into synsets through lexical relations between terms.” Uh huh. What it really means is that word meanings and semantic relationships are revealed graphically for your viewing pleasure. In a word: “cool.”
There is a lot to like about Google, yet there is also a lot to dislike too. An inherent distrust of results on first glance is one of my personal pet peeves. One never know if the top site on Google contains a scholarly answer to your question or is simply the result of cleverly crafted SEO.
Blekko (link here) is an upstart engine that hopes to address some of those woes. Blekko, which is publicly available as of today, trolls three billion Web pages it deems worthy and shows the very best results on any given topic. These “curated” pages are known in Blekko-ese by the somewhat unfortunate name of “slashtags.”
Blekko’s creators know enough to weed out pages that are churned out by companies on topics the company deems popular by people who may not fit your particular definition of “scholarly.” Blekko also leverages vertical search engines on specific topics – a better way to gain depth in results.
It is also drawing on a fruitful category of Web search — vertical search engines that offer results on specific topics. Search within one of Blekko’s topics and you will see the benefits of weeded, reliable vertical search.
Tailor your search by identifying a single site and desired object, search by specific types of results or topics. Use the slashtag to segregate search commands such as “iphone/antenna” to narrow in on just the articles of interest. Use Blekko’s slashtags, create your own or edit existing tags to suit your needs. What about the spammers getting in and editing the slashtags? Blekko advises that it will police its own processes, Wikipedia-style, as it is committed to staying true to its course.
A different angle on search is a good thing. Hope Blekko is onto something here.