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In the web-ified 1990s, we’ve gotten used to hyperlinking-the ability to click on a highlighted word to call up other information. But in most of the text that fills your screen-word processing files, e-mail messages and such-there’s not a hyperlink in sight. Two new tools aim to let you click on any word in any document and get additional information.

Software introduced last fall by Palo Alto, Calif.-based GuruNet.com makes every piece of text on your screen “alive.” As long as you’re logged on to the Internet, you can click on a word and within three seconds a window pops up offering a dictionary definition, brief encyclopedia entry and a list of Web links on the topic. “We think that people should be able to point at a word and say, ‘tell me more,’ and within three seconds get an answer,” explains GuruNet founder and president Robert Rosenschein.

GuruNet, which stores the databases on its servers, is currently available only for Windows computers (free download at www.gurunet.com), but Rosenschein says a Macintosh version should be available soon; the company may also adapt the product for Linux and Palm computers. Future refinements may enable users to select their own reference databases instead of using the ones GuruNet has chosen.

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Tagged: Biomedicine

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