Personal Interest Dashboard could improve Firefox’s History significantly

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No matter which browser you use, the browsing history that it makes available, that is the websites that you have visited in the past, is boring to look at and does not reveal many information other than when and what.

A first concept for a Personal Internet Dashboard for the Firefox web browser was published on Bugzilla which visualizes how things could change in the near future.

The project is part of Mozilla's User Personalization initiative which aims to bring personalization to users that respects privacy.

The main goal or objective of the Personal Interest Dashboard is to provide users with a visual representation and analysis of interests based on their browsing behavior. In addition to that, it aims to help users discover new contents on the Internet related to that.

The following mockup shows how the dashboard could look like when opened in the Firefox web browser.

firefox personal interest dashboard

As you can see, this looks similar to how web analytic services display visits and user interaction to webmasters. The dashboard displays general stats about your visits at the top including how many different sites have been visited in the past 30 days, the number of page views, and how much time you spend on average per day and per week visiting those sites. Here you also find listed the most visited sites of the last 30 days.

In addition to that, sites are automatically sorted into interests such as banking, blogging or cuisine below that. Each interest is ranked, the number of sites visited is displayed, and the last time you have visited one of the sites in the category.

A click on an interest expands the selection displaying site titles, links and the time you have visited them.

The second part of the Interest Dashboard opens when you click on discover new interests. This is a recommendation engine that is powered by your browsing behavior.

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It displays interests related to a user's browsing history and searches. A click on one of the interest bubbles displays site recommendations on the screen.

discover interests

It is not clear yet where those recommendations come from, for instance if they are curated by Mozilla or if  they are powered by a third-party source such as the DMOZ directory.

Mozilla makes it perfectly clear that it puts the user in charge.

The data we track and display must be clear to the user and be done on their behalf.

Any personal information collected must be initiated with the user's consent.

We will provide the user choices on what they want to share about their online experiences.

Mozilla has some experience in this regard. Back in 2012 it released an experimental add-on that displayed information about a user's browsing behavior by matching sites to DMOZ categories.

Please note that this is a concept at this point in time and not something that is implemented yet which means that everything is subject to change.

Conclusion

Providing users with additional information about their browsing behavior is an interesting idea. While not entirely new, add-ons such as Page Addict introduced this as early as 2006, it should be a welcome change to many users.

The feature stands and falls with proper categorization. Mozilla's 2012 add-on for instance was not very accurate in this regard and it remains to be seen if this new approach does a better job. An option to move a site from one interest to another could come in handy here.

I'm not really interested in the discovery part, as these type of services tend to display the usual high profile websites and companies only.

What's your take on the feature? (via Sören)

Summary
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Personal Interest Dashboard could improve Firefox's History significantly
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Mozilla's Personal Internet Dashboard for Firefox aims to visualize a user's browsing history and provide discovery options at the same time.
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Responses to Personal Interest Dashboard could improve Firefox’s History significantly

  1. Nebulus August 17, 2014 at 10:43 am #

    It was an interesting idea until I read this "We will provide the user choices on what they want to share about their online experiences." This is about LOCAL data so there should be no sharing whatsoever. They shouldn't even think about that at all - but my gut instinct tells me this is not about the users, it's just a new attempt to make them disclose/share more than they normally would.

    • insanelyapple August 17, 2014 at 11:46 am #

      If they're saying "We will provide the user choices on what they want to share about their online experiences." it means it will be opt-in by default and you have to resign. It's always like that.

    • Swanny August 17, 2014 at 1:17 pm #

      What's wrong with having an option to share the data? This is Mozilla, not Google or Facebook.

      • Nebulus August 17, 2014 at 3:36 pm #

        There is a contradiction between your two sentences :) They don't have to implement a "share" option precisely because they are not Google or Facebook.

  2. nonqu August 17, 2014 at 10:47 am #

    For me the make or break feature of this new thingy will be the ability to change from history to bookmarks on the fly after crtl+shift+del wipe or when the browser defaults to not remembering anything.

  3. Tom Hawack August 17, 2014 at 11:36 am #

    I have never understood the pertinence of knowing myself (in this context by analyzing my Web history) in order to travel (here on the WWW) in a more profitable and/or enjoyable way. I have to admit an insane refusal of psychoanalysis as a contribution to both intelligence and happiness.

    History IMO is founded only to save time recalling the url, not to participate to a stats board which could in return improve whatever.

    Consequently my opinion on this path to a better Web life is obvious : a loss of time and, worse, a wrong approach.

    • Martin Brinkmann August 17, 2014 at 11:43 am #

      The only use I can see for this is if the recommendation engine really excels. If it points me to websites that I don't know about and find interesting enough to bookmark or visit again.

      Usually though, you get the same type of popular site in each category that everybody knows about already.

      • Pants August 17, 2014 at 1:01 pm #

        If your monthly analysis shows "You tube lol cat videos" 45% Porn 45% and Other 10% - then this would be a good tool/indicator that you need help :P

      • Tom Hawack August 17, 2014 at 1:53 pm #

        That aim is healthy, Martin, in testing the tester's reliability. Other than that, I see no point of interest. But I've been told repeatedly that I happen to not be the only one on Earth :) Long live subjectivity.

  4. Eric August 17, 2014 at 4:14 pm #

    This information would almost never be useful to the person surfing the net... but it would be highly useful to ad companies and marketers. No thanks!

    • JohnMWhite August 17, 2014 at 6:38 pm #

      That's pretty much my take on it. I already know what I look at all day. I already know what I'm interested in. If I get bored visiting the regular sites for my interest, I'll use a search engine. I really struggle to see any use to this for the user.

  5. ilikon August 17, 2014 at 9:33 pm #

    Norwell is the new tool that improves firefox history:
    https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/norwell

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