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Personal Web Library: organizing and visualizing Web browsing history

Weidan Du (Department of Computer Graphics Technology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA)
Zhenyu Cheryl Qian (Department of Art and Design, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA)
Paul Parsons (Department of Computer Graphics Technology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA)
Yingjie Victor Chen (Department of Computer Graphics Technology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA)

International Journal of Web Information Systems

ISSN: 1744-0084

Article publication date: 18 June 2018

682

Abstract

Purpose

Modern Web browsers all provide a history function that allows users to see a list of URLs they have visited in chronological order. The history log contains rich information but is seldom used because of the tedious nature of scrolling through long lists. This paper aims to propose a new way to improve users’ Web browsing experience by analyzing, clustering and visualizing their browsing history.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors developed a system called Personal Web Library to help users develop awareness of and understand their Web browsing patterns, identify their topics of interest and retrieve previously visited Web pages more easily.

Findings

User testing showed that this system is usable and attractive. It found that users can easily see patterns and trends at different time granularities, recall pages from the past and understand the local context of a browsing session. Its flexibility provides users with much more information than the traditional history function in modern Web browsers. Participants in the study gained an improved awareness of their Web browsing patterns. Participants mentioned that they were willing to improve their time management after viewing their browsing patterns.

Practical implications

As more and more daily activities rely on the internet and Web browsers, browsing data captures a large part of users’ lives. Providing users with interactive visualizations of their browsing history can facilitate personal information management, time management and other meta-level activities.

Originality/value

This paper aims to help users gain insights into and improve their Web browsing experience, the authors hope that the work they conducted can spur more research contributions in this underdeveloped yet important area.

Keywords

Citation

Du, W., Qian, Z.C., Parsons, P. and Chen, Y.V. (2018), "Personal Web Library: organizing and visualizing Web browsing history", International Journal of Web Information Systems, Vol. 14 No. 2, pp. 212-232. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJWIS-09-2017-0065

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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