Silicon Alley Reporter
A Thesaurus Fit for a Tuftean King
March 1998
Quick, what's another word for animated information?
How about the Plumb Design Visual Thesaurus (OK, that's four words). Plumb Design, a New York City-based design and development company, has unveiled the Visual Thesaurus (, which illustrates the meaning relationships among English words by turning information into animation, altering the user's relationship with language.
Those visiting the site will find a sort of choreographed typography--a web of lines connecting words. Clicking on an item calls up more words from another database, creating a web of associated synonyms. Word forms that are more related brighten; those that are less related disappear from the display.
Marc Tinkler, Plumb Design's director of technology, calls the thesaurus a perfect example of ThinkMap technology, an advancement that frees users "from the hierarchies that are imposed by traditional Web sites." Tinkler says The Thinkmap software stands out because the information is animated, showing the latent connections between apparently dissimilar items. Written in Java, Thinkmap is able to interface with static and dynamic information sources via interchangeable data-interface modules. It's sold as a customized solution, the price a combination of a licensing fee with additional charges for custom development.
The software "is part of our continuing efforts to develop tools that empower designers to create innovative and powerful information technologies," Tinkler adds. "We believe that the very experience of seeking information can be enriching and challenging. What is unique about Thinkmap is that, through its modular construction, it gives designers who might not want to work in Java the ability to create a unique information design."
Founded in 1997, Plumb Design builds applications for organizations that use the Internet as a vehicle for exchanging information and ideas.
Thinkmap. Visualize Complex Information.