Knowledge repositories proliferate at an accelerating rate. While these offer excellent support for specific information searches, there is limited support for unstructured browsing or semi-structured information gathering, when a user does not know what there is to know (but wants to find information connecting known concepts).
C-Link is new search tool for finding related and possibly unknown concepts that lie on a path between two known concepts. A demo of C-Link available here is set up to search Wikipedia with the ability to export your search to CMap. If you are interested in using C-Link to search other databases or repositories, please contact the project team.
Students making the transition from School to University often feel swamped by information and need to develop skills in information literacy. There is strong evidence that Wikipedia is a very important source of information for University students, especially in year one. Tools for understanding the structure of information in these large repositories and for conducting semi-structured queries are needed by University students and by the general public.
This project has built a tool for semi-structured searching of knowledge repositories based on finding previously unknown concepts that lie between other concepts. Consider a user who wanted to know about optimisation of crystal structures. A search which looks for concepts which lie between and hence connect "optimisation" and "crystal structure" may turn up previously unknown concepts such as "genetic algorithms" or "space groups" - which would be very difficult to find via conventional approaches to search (which assume that the user has a good understanding of what terms to search for).
We have already tested the tool with undergraduate Computing students who found it easier and more effective to use than conventional search teachniques. Over this academic year, we shall be using it with students from other backgrounds (including Social Science) to explore how they can use it to enhace their information literacy skills. Please contact us if you wish to use it with your students so that we can offer any support and request your feedback.
This project brings together the School of Computing Information and Media and the Teaching Quality Enhancement Group at the University of Bradford, together with the National Media Museum (based in Bradford). Hence the project has a range of critical friends to increase applicability, take up and longevity of the developed tool. For contact details please see the links in the sub-menu on the right.
The C-Link tool requires Silverlight to be installed on your computer. Installation instructions and more information can be found here. If you are unsure whether or not you have Silverlight installed, click the link and you will be redirected to the installer if necessary. You may want to read the user guide below first.
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C-Link exploits the structure of wikipedia to find links between concepts. First, you must pick two concepts (or ideas) you are interested in.
The search is not symmetrical, so searching from A->B will produce different results as searching from B->A. You may want to try both. Enter your concepts in the boxes provided.
As you type, concepts will be listed in the box below. There may only be one option to pick from, but when the term is ambiguous, or has multiple meanings, you must select the correct one from the list. Once you have the two concepts selected, a button will appear at the bottom showing the relatedness of these two concepts. If this is 0% it may be very difficult for the software to find a link.
Click the button and the search will begin. The software intelligently chooses links to explore. This is a quick process, but is slowed down for the viewers benefit. The orange path highlights the current path it is searching. The thickness of the lines indicates how strongly related the two concepts are and the colour of the nodes indicates how far from the start of the search a concept is (red being close and cyan being far.)
Once the complete path has been found, the search will stop, leaving the final path highlighted. Now you can see nodes which have been interesting to the search during the search process. licking on a node will center the view on that node and the ones connected to it. Clicking the node again will zoom out to make the whole graph visible.
Hovering over a concept will display some information about it:
- The title
- The first paragraph of the page
- Distance from the start
- Estimated distance from the end
- Relatedness to the start concept
- Relatedness to the end concept
You may now start a new search, plot the results on a graph, or continue to expand the search.
If you want to save a search for later reference, you can save it in a format which loads directly into CMAP concept mapping software. As well as being able to manipulate the diagram using the tools in CMAP, this will then allow you to export the diagram as an image file or web page.
If you have a question, please use the feedback form below. Frequently Asked Questions will appear here.
I want to get involved! What can I do?
The project's funding is nearly over and we still have plenty of ideas to explore. If you would like to help us, or have some of your own, contact us in the section below.
Can I use C-Link with my database?
It doesn't work. What is wrong?
C-Link has been tested on Windows and Mac with the latest version of Silverlight. If you have problems please make sure you have the latest version of Silverlight and your browser is up-to-date. Make sure you restart your browser windows after the install and if this doesn't help, try restarting the computer. If the problem still persists contact us in the section below.
Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks.