06.13.07

Clickstreams & the Implicit Web

Posted in Attention, ImplicitWeb, Mashups, Uncategorized at 9:38 am by elliot

There’s been a lot of buzz recently surrounding the “Implicit Web” concept, something I’ve blogged about in the past.

ReadWriteWeb has a great write-up on the subject, with case studies focusing on several popular websites that incorporate implicit data collection techniques (Last.fm, etc.).

Even more interesting is a “live attention-stream” viewer created by Stan James of Lijit. This neat little webapp utilizes clickstream data gathered by the Cluztr social browsing plugin, allowing Internet users to “follow along” with another user’s web browsing session.

This and other recent work on leveraging implicit data-flows is pretty exciting stuff, and we’re really only starting to scratch the surface as to what’s possible.

I’ve been toying around with implicit data gathering techniques for the last six months or so, using my company’s AlchemyPoint platform to gain access to clickstreams and other information. Because the AlchemyPoint system operates as a transparent proxy-server, it makes it easy to build simple analysis/data-mining applications that “jack in” to web browsing, email, and instant messaging activity.

So what’s possible if you’re “jacked in”? Let’s start with something very basic: gathering statistics on the usage of various web sites.

Click for detailed view

Above is a snippit from something I’ve been calling a dash-up. So what’s a dash-up?

Think dashboard + mash-up.

Essentially, a dash-up is a presentation-level mashup that collects data from multiple sources and presents it in a useful graphical dashboard view (in this case, dynamically updating activity charts). The above screenshot is showing both a general web traffic history, and more detailed statistics on my music-listening activity on the popular Internet Radio web site, Pandora.com.

OK, statistics-gathering is kinda neat, but what about something more useful? One of my favorites is passive tagging or implicit blogging activity. Stay tuned for my next post, which will detail some of the ways passive/implicit data collection enhances (through filtering, tagging, etc.) the Internet sites I use on a daily basis.

5 Comments »

  1. Stan James said,

    June 13, 2007 at 11:14 am

    Hey,

    I love the “dash-up” moniker! I’m going to have to start using that one. Looking forward to your next post about using implicit data.

    I’m working on a dash-up for my blog too, basically following the lifelogging tradition of showing all my activity across various sites and services on my blog. My actual blog *posts* are such a small part of my total online activity and output!

    -Stan

  2. elliot said,

    June 15, 2007 at 9:17 am

    Thanks for the comment. The lifeblogging stuff sounds pretty interesting!

  3. Jon said,

    June 15, 2007 at 8:43 pm

    Great post Elliot!
    I look forward to the next post in this series.

    Cluztr is more then just a social browser plugin, it’s a social browsing platform and network. It’s part social discovery and part self expression. Stan’s brilliant Live Attention viewer utilizes our robust API as does many other services.

    The idea of dashups is excelent. In your opinion would lifestreaming services such as iStalkr, Dandelife and Jaiku be considered a dashup?

  4. elliot said,

    June 17, 2007 at 1:46 pm

    Thanks for the feedback Jon! Cluztr sounds pretty comprehensive; I’ll have to take a deeper look at the service and its associated API this week.

    Regarding your question: I’d definitely consider something like the Dandelife graphical ‘timeline’ view a dashup. I’m not sure Jaiku and the other related services themselves are dashups though; in my mind, it’s more a matter of how data is being redisplayed to the user (is that data being displayed in a graphical/visual format, or is it just redisplaying text in a widget). Any sort of truly graphical status display (charts, graphs, things like the Twitter map) that pulls data in from various sources would qualify as a dashup.

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