I just ran across an interesting new application for navigating through and visualizing the connections between the many articles in Wikipedia.
Pathway starts out simply enough by asking for a search term but then shows the word and all of those related to it linked from the article.
Click on any of the words and you’ve started to build yourself a map of the connected terms. In my simple example (click to see a larger version), blog is related to podcast which links to rss.
While all that’s going on in the upper part of the interface, you can read the article for each term in the lower part.
The program also allows you to save a map so you can continue to play with it later. Or demonstrate the connectedness of knowledge to a class of students.
The author wrote the program to keep himself from getting lost while clicking on link after link in Wikipedia and to archive his path.
It certainly seems to do an excellent job with that. And is very addicting as well.
The map also reminds me a little of the wonderful Visual Thesaurus.
Update (9/28) – Sorry I didn’t mention some details. The software is beta so there may be a few bugs, although I didn’t find any. It’s free to download although the creator requests donations. Oh, and it’s for Mac OS X only (it’s nice to say that once in a while :-).