Thinking about words visually

What could be more boring, less innovative than an online thesaurus? But the same kind of thinking that went into ThinkTank (Dave Winer’s brilliant outlining program developed in 1988!) has gone into VisualThesaurus

The goal of this software (available on line or as a desk-top application) is to create a word map of associations that can be manipulated in 2-d or “3-d” space.

The effect is astonishing. You can control the kinds of associations shown, the size and distance of the words, and you can hover over the nodes to see a definition. 

As you click on a word, it becomes the center of a  whole new map of words. The 3-d map allows you to swing the center over top, allowing new associations to take center stage with a dynamism that can only lead to great creativity.

I have no idea who will benefit from this; or what other uses will be born from this technology; but I’m convinced they are doing something exciting here.