This crazy endeavour started over Christmas 2008.

“Take a search term “seed”. Pass it to a search engine: Google, Yahoo etc. Examine the content of the top “n” results for “themes”, take each theme and repeat the search - Hey presto you get a “mind map” from the web.”

I have been playing with this off and on ever since, call it an idle distraction. As with my other projects I will get the code available soon. The current incarnation uses random sampling so multiple maps will arise from the same seed. Also my HTML scraper could do with more work.

The primary use for the tool is to give you a head start in understanding an unknown area or to further thoughts in something you are already researching.

I could imagine a search engine which built up associations as it crawled the web, when a user entered a search term some form of mind map would be returned. The map could be navigated, clicking nodes would list sites of interest.

I’m currently looking at improving the way seed words are generated, they are currently selected based on word frequency within the documents associated to a search term. I suspect that analysis based on proximity to popular words as well as noun and verb classification will improve its output.

Here are some examples of the mind maps it currently generates. Note, the results are not supposed to be the same as a normal search, they are supposed to kick start thoughts in and around the initial seed. You would print out the mind map and scribble on it.

“lean software development”

automated mind map "lean software development"

“sponge cake”

automated mind map for sponge cake