Saturday, October 20, 2007

ThoughtMesh Helps Writers Connect Ideas

Last week saw the launch of the first public release to emerge from research by the Interarchive working group. ThoughtMesh is an unusual model for publishing and discovering scholarly papers online. It gives readers a tag-based navigation system that uses keywords to connect excerpts of essays published on different Web sites.

Use ThoughtMesh to post your essay online, and you get a traditional left-hand navigation menu plus a tag cloud that enables nonlinear access to text excerpts. You can navigate through excerpts both within the original essay and from related essays across the mesh. Unlike the Google hack previously investigated by the Interarchive group (and described in this blog), ThoughtMesh offers an alternative to depending on commercial search engines. To be sure, researchers can still use Google to find essays meshed with this new software--unlike Flash-based or database-driven article repositories. But ThoughtMesh also offers a completely independent, tag-based discovery system: search for "media" + "installation" and you'll see the relevant excerpts in the current essay as well as any others meshed to date.

One other handy feature is ThoughtMesh's automatic tag generation, based on Chirag Mehta's spiffy Tagline software. Authors who want to customize their tags can, but those short on time can let the software do it for them.

For more on ThoughtMesh features, see the essay "New Media Scholar? Distribute and Connect!"

ThoughtMesh is a collaborative project by Vector's Craig Dietrich and Still Water co-director Jon Ippolito, with help from John Bell, Still Water Research Fellow and developer of the Telamon remote scripting software.


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