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Robin Good's insight:
Cruxlight is a free browser extension (for Chrome, Safari and Firefox) which allows you to easily summarize any web page or article, while identifying its key topics.
More info: http://www.cruxlight.com/
Firefox extension: https://app-cruxlight.appspot.com/extensions/firefox/cruxlight.xpi
Robin Good: If you are looking for a simple and free tool that helps you synthesize and shorten up an otherwise long text, give a try to Text Compactor.
This web-based service works by simply copying and pasting the text passage you want to shorten up, and by then specifying the "amount" of summarization to apply to it.
Text Compactor produces in real-time a shortened-up version on the same page making the whole process extremely easy and fast.
No signup or registration required. The service is free.
Try it out now: http://textcompactor.com/
Robin Good: The Contextual Thesaurus is a working experiment of Microsoft Language Labs, which visualizes alternative ways of expressing the same idea both as text phrases as well as visual map made up of all the possible alternative combinations.
Click one of the paraphrases to highlight the path through the graph taken by that sentence. If you click on a word in the graph, the top-ranked paraphrase containing that term will be highlighted. If you click the check mark beside a paraphrase, the text will be moved into the input box in order to be paraphrased. This way you can round trip your paraphrases to see more alternatives.