Powerful methods for interactive exploration and search from collections of free-form textual documents are needed to manage the ever-increasing flood of digital information. In this article we present a method, WEBSOM, for automatic organization of full-text document collections using the self-organizing map (SOM) algorithm. The document collection is ordered onto a map in an unsupervised manner utilizing statistical information of short word contexts. The resulting ordered map where similar documents lie near each other thus presents a general view of the document space. With the aid of a suitable (WWW-based) interface, documents in interesting areas of the map can be browsed. The browsing can also be interactively extended to related topics, which appear in nearby areas on the map. Along with the method we present a case study of its use.