Time to grok on Grokker
- By John K. Waters
Groxis has created a connection with Amazon.com in its flagship product, Grokker, an application designed to convert data, documents, records and search results into "graphical knowledge maps."
"Essentially, we are plugging our Grokker desktop application into the Amazon.com Web service," explained Groxis CEO RJ Pittman. "We're providing a new level of information efficiency for Amazon customers by connecting directly to their entire product library and database via a Web service, instead of using a Web browser and going through the front door."
Grokker is one of the first commercial implementations of an emerging generation of information visualization products. So-called infoviz applications help to reveal patterns hidden in data, and then present the results in a more accessible, more visual form.
"Grokker is designed to create a visual, interactive search platform that makes it easy for users to look through a large set of search results, such as those you might find from Google or Yahoo, or a large set of products, like you'll find at Amazon," Pittman said.
Groxis offers three editions of Grokker: a basic edition designed to allow users to map information from a variety of data sources; a professional version for corporate users, professional researchers and academics who need more data mining and map control; and an enterprise edition that includes a toolkit for accessing, organizing and delivering enterprise data.
Sausalito, Calif.-based Groxis began working with Amazon about two years ago to create the specification for Amazon's Web services APIs, Pittman said. "They were looking around, trying to figure out what would be needed in a Web service to make it valuable to their affiliates, partners and developers," he said. "We were out there a couple of years ahead of the curve with our application platform, and so we had a lot to say about that. Speaking up certainly paid off.
"It's getting exciting now," he continued, "especially when you consider the broader trend in Web services. Amazon is by no means the only company out there doing this. Google now has a Web services API that you can freely access and program against, as do thousands of other sites."
Added Pittman: "Amazon is leveraging Web services to the next level. Right now, everyone is still focused on getting their own Web site or e-business Web-enabled. But I think we're going to start seeing more and more sites integrated by a Web service. You might have one query interface, like a Google, but it might be accessing 10 different content sources at once, sort of like a meta search engine, but much more integrated with the nature of the products or the information being brought together. It's the kind of thing that really couldn't happen until Web services came along."
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John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached