Amazon has long been one of my favorite sites on the web. It seems that every week I have a package arriving at my door from Amazon (or Threadless), but with such an immense array of products, browsing and searching them can become a chore. Below I'll take a look at five different visualizations that let you browse and find Amazon products in completely new ways. None of these are necessarily new sites, but they're all interesting and some are very useful and fun ways to browse through Amazon's massive catalog.
LivePlasma is a flash-visualization based on Amazon's ecommerce service that explores links between music artists/bands, movies, directors, and actors. By using recommendation and other data gleaned from Amazon, LivePlasma creates a visual web of related products. For example, my search for Led Zeppelin directed me toward Neil Young, Pink Floyd, Cream, the Rolling Stones, and Jimi Hendrix, among others. Clicking on Cream loaded their map, which recommended Derek and Dominos and Eric Clapton, as well as the Allman Brothers Band. LivePlasma's recommendations are as good as Amazon's -- which are quite good -- and displayed in a more useful and easier to digest manner.
LivePlasma also loads the discography of the artist you are searching in the sidebar with links directly to Amazon. By signing up, you can save your favorite product maps for later viewing.
Flowser is another flash-based Amazon visualization. For each search you perform, Flowser loads up to 3 top selling products in different categories. For example, when I searched for Pink Floyd I got products returned from the music, dvd, software, books, jewelry, clothing, toys, and electronics categories. Clicking on a category icon will load 10 additional products, which you can page through 10 at a time. A click on an individual product loads additional information about the product, including a selection of Amazon user comments and categories. Once you register at Flowser, you can add products to a favorites list along with comments and your rating.
Unfortunately Flowser is sunk by an array of some exceptionally annoying sound effects. Just about every where you click or rest your mouse on the flash visualization creates some sort of beep or boop.
BrowseGoods is a visualization that lets you zoom and pan Amazon's catalog of products. Right now BrowseGoods searches cookware, shoes, sporting goods, toys, and watches. When you start zoomed out, you see a product map that displays the various category segmentations visually by size. Clicking on each area zooms in a little further. For example, in the watches section, I could click on Men's, then Sport, then Metal Bands, then zoom in on the Tag Hauer section. The more you zoom in, the closer your view of the product and the more information about it you get (such as price or model name). Clicking on each product pops up an info box that lets you save, email, or buy products directly from Amazon.
BrowseGoods feels a lot like Google Maps for Amazon, including Google Maps-like click and drag controls, as well as keyboard shortcuts.
Tuneglue music map is a "relationship explorer" that is very similar to LivePlasma. Using data from both Amazon and Last.fm, Tuneglue, explores relationships between musical artists. You can also load each artist's discography in a sidebar window and buy directly from Amazon. Some artists load with extra options, such as news (which really appears to be a bio) and a link to their official web site.The
Tuneglue's recommendations, because they also come from Last.fm, are a bit different than LivePlasma, but still generally very accurate. My search for Led Zeppelin at Tuneglue brought back recommendations of Hendrix, the Beatles, Pink Floyd, the Doors, the Who, and the Rolling Stones.
Coverpop is different that other visualizations on this list in that is it more of an art project than an ecommerce project. Coverpop loads a collage of covers of products in a single category. For example, the screenshot below displays a collage of 1,001 art books. Clicking on any one of them will direct you to its Amazon product page. Coverpop has a lot of fun collages to browse, including some non-Amazon based ones from YouTube and Flickr.