Doing more with data


Firefox users: Did you know that you have private database that contains all your browsing information?

Well, you do. And here’s the thing:

  • Only you have access to it
  • It’s under-utilized
  • You probably didn’t even know it existed

Browsing could be better. There’s no question about that. We have set conventions and preconceived notions about how browsing should be. That is, until the next big thing comes along and rocks our world.

It feels like using data to improve browsing is a no-brainer, and data-driven browsing is already the next big thing. You see this in search suggests, amazon suggested items, the iTunes store, and other sites. And that’s just all site-specific. Imagine if we used data the right way and made things just click?

On a limited scale, it’s all more than possible today. You have complete control over your own browsing history:

  • Sites visited
  • Bookmarks
  • Awesome bar history
  • Media viewed
  • Favorite sites
  • Search keywords
  • Trending of all the above

Simple fact is that you’re not using as much as you could.

The Firefox awesome bar was heralded as a great step in browsing innovation. And it’s true, it really was. And that’s because a lot of browsing is really repeat browsing. How many times do you go back and view what you just looked at the other day?

But that’s the tip of the iceberg. There are a lot of things we can learn about the web and about how we use the web to make it better. And don’t think about person -> corporation -> other corporations. For starters, think about what you could do with just your own browsing data, or your family’s browsing data:

  • Easy access to repeat searches – movies, facebook, maps, you name it
  • An automated media catalog of images, videos and news articles you read over time
  • A list of phone numbers you have looked up and who they belong to
  • A list of all map directions you’ve ever done
  • A list of people you read about over the last week

The awesome bar in Firefox already uses this, and it’s great to see some Firefox extensions are already tapping into the possibilities:

  • about:me lets you read about your own browsing statistics
  • Voyage is a very cool way to not only view the sites you’ve used but see how you got there over time and whether or not you Tweeted about it!

Those are just two examples of what we can do and where we can go. I’m pretty excited to see what happens next. Maybe you have the next great idea — go forth!

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