October 25, 2016

Eyebrowse: A Collaborative Web Browsing Tool Under Development at MIT

From MIT News:

Researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have developed a new system that allows Web users to share self-selected aspects of their online activity with their friends and the general public. The hope is to give users themselves, as well as academics and other scientists conducting research in the public interest, access to the same type of browsing data that big Web companies currently collect and mine to better target products to individual consumers.


[Researchers] describe the new system, which they’ve dubbed Eyebrowse, in a paper presented last week at the Association for Computing Machinery’s conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing, in San Francisco. The paper also describes the results of a survey of potential end users, which helped guide the system’s design, and of a field trial of the system. The findings suggest that Web users could, indeed, find it worth their while to share data about their online activities.


Eyebrowse currently consists of two components: a website and an extension to Google’s Chrome Web browser. Installing the extension involves two mouse clicks and takes seconds. Thereafter, anytime the user visits a Web page, clicking the Eyebrowse icon on the browser task bar will pull down a window offering an array of features.

One is the opportunity to add the site’s domain name to the user’s “whitelist.” As long as the Eyebrowse extension is turned on, the system will record the user’s visits to pages on whitelisted sites. But the pull-down window also features a switch for turning Eyebrowse off, for private browsing. (The Eyebrowse icon, an open eye, “closes” when the system is off.) Similarly, it offers a button for reporting visits to sites not on the whitelist.

Learn More, Read the Complete Article

Additional Resources

PREPRINT of Paper Presented at Conference: Opportunities and Challenges Around a Tool for Social and Public Web Activity Tracking (via Amy X. Zhang’s Web Page)

Eyebrowse: Selective and Public Web Activity Sharing
by Amy X. Zhang, Joshua Blum, David Karger. Demo Paper. CSCW ’16.
Demo PDF
Reimagining Web Activity Tracking for Social Applications
by Amy X. Zhang, Joshua Blum, David Karger.  Everyday Surveillance Workshop @ CHI ’16.
Workshop Paper
Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.