Don't Browse Harder, Browse Smarter

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As if you couldn't tell, I'm spending a good portion of my morning on literature searches on a couple of topics, so I keep running across papers that I wish I had more time to read.

For instance, here's a paper from Russel Beale at the University of Birmingham on "Improving Internet Interaction" (PDF). In essence, the paper describes a project to help improve the act of browsing the internet by enriching what I would call the "information content" of links to other pages. Based on an analysis of the pages you've browsed in the past (recent history files), an agent searches ahead through the links on the currently viewed page and determines which are of potentially greater or lesser interest (to oversimplify, it does so through matching keywords culled from your history with those on the linked pages). The level of potential interest is then communicated to the user through link coloring and DHTML interfaces (alt-tag like boxes that appear when hovering on a link).

Beale breaks up internet use into three broad categories -- search, browse, monitor (like refreshing, say, Fark) -- and then focuses on browsing. The results are interesting, and make me want to get my hands on the program to try it out. Though, despite Beale's comments that better and more sophisticated search tools are being addressed "elsewhere" (I think that's "academic speak" for "someone else has a really good paper right now"), the usefulness of the tool for search seems obvious. Incorporating a ranking function as well as context-sensitive procedures --ranking as more important words found in a downloaded PDF vs. those that I skipped; increasing the importance of words on pages I spend more time on, or from domains I viewed a lot of pages in; and so on -- would almost guarantee that I'd fire the program up frequently. Of course, there's a good chance Beale's way ahead of me on that. I tend to be far behind the curve on these things.

In the meantime, it's back to guessing keywords and plowing through the rather haphazard Google Scholar.

1 Comment

I was searching for the term "Browse Smarter" and came upon this article and felt compelled to write this note.

We address the human interaction side of "Browse Smarter". Simply the ability to bookmark and organize your information sources as you work. The result is that all your links are organized by subject and or project and grouped for easy access. You can literally index and archive thousands of links and have them available for reference any time you need. These links also become sharebale through a tabbed browser interface.


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This page contains a single entry by published on March 23, 2006 9:47 AM.

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