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All Seeing Eye Chrome Extension

This is a new type of request for HelpMeViz, and comes from Marc Fawzi, author of a new Chrome extension. He is soliciting general ideas on the visualization side of his project.


I’ve built an open-source Chrome extension that replaces Chrome’s default history page with a visually oriented interface. It captures and displays in Pinterest-style format all the pages you’ve visited and it let’s you search the content of all saved pages.

For privacy and performance, the extension stores everything locally using the browser’s built-in NoSQL store (IndexedDB) and it can store up to 10,000 pages including screenshots and full text, which comes to about 5GB of disk space, but this limit is arbitrary. It will be possible for the user to set a much lower or much higher value in the next version.

The extension is capable of recording the time you spend each day on each URL (how long in total the URL is loaded in a visible tab/window excluding idle time) and it can therefore tell you things like how much time you’ve spent on Hacker News or Gmail over any period. However, the visualizations can be a lot more powerful and meaningful if the user opts in to share their anonymized browsing history. With that, we can tell you if you’re spending too much time on Hacker News or on the D3 mailing list, as compared to the total population of users.

It can do another thing by gathering anonymized browsing data, per opt-in permission, which is to use that to draw correlations between seemingly unrelated sites, which users can visualize, may be in a network graph where edges grow thicker or thinner depending on link strength and nodes grow bigger or smaller depending on popularity of the given site among all users, but it can be a chord diagram, too. I’m not a visualization expert.

The extension can also monitor things like rapid back and forth switching between open tabs, where the sites are not correlated at all, as it may indicate ADHD behavior (but that’s just an idea that I personally find fascinating, although it may be something that users don’t wish to analyze — where to draw the line…)

Given all of the potential for Personal Web Analytics, the type of input I’m asking for is all about the imagination, not so much concrete ideas. I just want to hear what people think and what kind and variety of personal web analytics they would find useful.

There is also some Hacker News discussion of the existing, non-data-visualization features of the extension, where, for improved privacy, I promised to add a “Do Not Capture” list of hostnames (e.g. that users can declare. This feature has been added in the latest version.

2 thoughts on “All Seeing Eye Chrome Extension

  1. To start, the simplest thing is to provide a bar or column chart that shows the user’s time on various websites. You could aggregate sites by type–say, 10 bars in total?–and then allow the user to click on each one to see the breakdown by specific website.

    Given that there is probably a lot of data being collected, you may also want to consider a heatmap, maybe by putting website along the y-axis and date along the x-axis. Or maybe change along the x-axis? In that way, the user could track the change from one site to another.

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