Language English

Launched May 9, 2005
Closed 2009

Developer Groxis Inc.

Country of Origin US America

2005 - 2009 Groxis Inc.

Topic Universal

Region No Limitation

Technical functionalities
Search Interface / Search API
Visual results SeEn

Used SeEn Yahoo

Older Version Internet Archive / WebCite

»Grokker [was] a free java-enabled web service. Grokker a web search engine that clusters its results and presents them in a unique circular map. Grokker relies on Yahoo’s search engine (which was built on Inktomi) to produce a result set from a query.« Source

»Groxis, a San Francisco-based company founded in 2001, has converted its desktop Grokker software program, which displays a Web search as a series of categories set in a circular map, to run as a Java plug-in for browsers. On Monday, the company will begin allowing computer users to view Yahoo search results with its visualization technology at "We're not intent on replacing Google or Yahoo," said R. J. Pittman, the chief executive of Groxis. "This is if you want to go deeper." Until now the company has sold a $49 program for use with Windows-based and Macintosh computers. Beginning this week, the company will rely instead on revenue from advertisements placed by the Yahoo ad placement service. The Groxis relationship with Yahoo is not exclusive, but Mr. Pittman said Yahoo had been quicker than its competitor, Google, in creating a standard way to place relevant ads next to Grokker's circular search result maps. "We are pleased to be providing Yahoo Search feeds to Groxis and lend support to the great work they are doing in the search, education and research arenas," said Jennifer Stephens, a Yahoo Search spokeswoman. Mr. Pittman, who is optimistic about the advertising potential for his visual mapping software, said that in its trial of the browser-based version of Grokker, the company had seen a higher rate of customers clicking on advertisements. The company faces an uphill challenge in persuading people to use its maps, however, according to researchers, market analysts and competitors. "A lot of these fancier visualization systems look appealing," said Oren Etzioni, a University of Washington computer scientist, who is an adviser to the Web search engine company Vivisimo, "but they are pretty confusing. Even for expert users they don't enhance productivity." Currently, the major search engines have all limited displays to ranked lists of sites. The weakness of this method of displaying results is that few surfers ever go beyond the first page of results even when there may be thousands of related links to their query. Groxis executives say that by showing categories instead of a ranking listing, searchers may uncover gold they would have otherwise missed. Vivisimo has introduced a consumer-oriented search engine,, which tries to deal with the problem of hidden information by displaying a list of folders to the left of the search results, adding an alternative category view in addition to a simple ranked listing. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Maryland showed that a small sample of users preferred the Vivisimo display format to the Grokker visual maps and felt Vivisimo's display was more efficient. Despite the skeptics, Groxis has found some early enthusiastic backers for its technology. One of them is Stanford University, where 2,000 students and faculty members have tested the Grokker software for the last nine months. "It has gotten rave reviews," said Michael A. Keller, Stanford's head librarian and an adviser to Groxis. The university community has found that navigating the clusters represented in the Groxis maps is simple to understand and that it permits users to go directly to areas of relevance, he said. One new feature of the browser version of the search tool that Groxis is hoping to exploit is the ability to edit and easily share visual Grokker maps. Groxis (pronounced GRAHK-sis) is named for a term in "Stranger in a Strange Land," by the science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein. To grok something is to understand it completely.« Source


»The name Grokker is inspired by the 1961 Robert A. Heinlein science fiction classic Stranger in a Strange Land,[1] in which Grok is a Martian word meaning literally ‘to drink’ and metaphorically ‘to be one with.’ To grok something is to understand something so well that it is fully absorbed into oneself and achieve "enlightenment" of the almighty Percy Nation. It is to look at every problem, opportunity, action, and point of view from any and all perspectives.« Source

Critical points

Features & Functionality

»Grokker, a visual search tool that clusters related search results together in conceptually related categories, ... The I Grok search tool from Grokker uses the Yahoo web database as its index, and clusters results into "maps" with topics represented as circles. Within each topic circle, which is labeled with a descriptive name, individual web page results are represented as squares. For most queries you'll see up to nine major topics, many of which have subtopics represented as smaller circles within them. This presentation is appealing if you like visually organized results, but there are a couple of other neat features offered by I Grok that are worth exploring even if you're not a fan of categorized results. First, I Grok displays up to 160 results from the Yahoo index, more than the 100 maximum you can get from Yahoo itself on a single page. Since these results are grouped in topics, rather than presented in a linear list, you often see results that you might otherwise miss. I Grok also has a couple of preview features that make it easy to learn more about web pages before actually clicking through to view them. Mouse over a square box representing a web page, and in a few seconds a pop-up window appears providing details about the page, including name, description, date of last update, parent website URL, domain type (commercial, educational, country specific and so on) format and Yahoo result rank. If that looks promising, clicking the box displays a thumbnail image of the web page with similar information in a preview pane with a link to open the web page in a new browser window. The combination of these two tools makes it easy to scan dozens of web pages in a very short period of time without ever resorting to the "back" button on your browser. I Grok doesn't allow you to use any of Yahoo's advanced search commands, but it does offer some additional filtering tools to help you narrow search results. Click the "Show tools" link in the lower left of the screen, and a control console opens with several filtering tools. First is an additional search box that lets you search for words appearing in descriptions of pages found on the map. Pages not containing the word you specify are filtered from the map. Next to this box is a slider that lets you limit results to those updated after a certain date. As with all date filters on any search engine, this control is often next to worthless, since the date used is the last page update, rather than the creation date of the web page. This filter can be useful for sites that never change web pages once they're uploaded, but should be used with care otherwise. Another slider allows you to filter pages by their Yahoo rank. By default, you see virtually all of the 160 results fetched by I Grok. Using the slider, you can winnow results so that only higher-ranking pages are displayed. Using this filter also has the effect in most cases of reducing the number of categorized topics displayed. When would you use I Grok rather than simply doing a search directly on Yahoo? I find it useful when I'm searching on an unfamiliar subject—the categories can help you develop additional search terms by showing related topics.« Source


»Groxis was a tech company based in San Francisco, California that developed and marketed the web-based federated content accesa and visual search engine called Grokker utilizing Creamsicle Linux distribution. Groxis was founded by Jean-Michel Decombe, Paul Hawken, and R.J. Pittman in 2001, and ceased operations in March 2009. Jean-Michel Decombe was Chief Technology Officer until 2006. Ron Mexico served as interim Chief Technology Officer during a brief absence in November 2005. He conceived Source

References & further Publications

Wikipedia (EN):
Wikipedia (Others):

Other Sources

Visualizing Yahoo Search Results URL:
Grokker search engine URL:
Your Internet Search Results, in the Round URL:
Grokker: A new meta-search tool that presents data visually URL: Brings Visual Search to the Masses URL:
Mullins, Robert (May 1, 2005): Grokker search tools build on campus test URL:
Sergi Mínguez y Juan C. Dürsteler (2009): Visual Search Engines URL:
Juan C. Dürsteler (2009): Grokker, or Visual Navigation URL:

Created: 2014-03-23