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Analytics for personal search history

by acylhalide1 min read24th Oct 20216 comments

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PracticalWorld Optimization
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Question 1: Are there any good tools to analyse your own personal search or web history?

Examples of things I am looking for:

 - Grouping by content type

 - Grouping by website

 - Grouping by time spent

 - Grouping by "need" that is driving my activity. Be it desire for social interaction, desire to research something, searches relating to household chores and responsibilities, researches related to career or studies, etc.

 - Trends on different timescales. What topic was I researching past 30 minutes? What are the set of ideas related to this I have researched in the past 5 years.

Motivations:

 - Improving productivity of research. Figure out what all topics I have been researching. Form a map or tree of research topics so I can explore it more efficiently and with purpose.

 - Manage multiple needs in a healthy way. For instance social interaction can both be healthy or unhealthy depending on the medium, and persons interacted. Reddit anonymous comment section versus Discord voice call with a friend. Basically better emotional regulation and interaction with the net.

 - Manage time more efficiently. Figure where I am likely to waste time. Set appropriate controls.

 - Collaborate on actionable insights. If multiple people use the same tool to track themselves, they might eventually be able to form new insights on what kinds of behaviour are healthy or unhealthy. Spending 3 hours on youtube isn't automatically unhealthy, but it could be if you have detected it is acting as a replacement or escape for a more pertinent need. Forming actionable insights from data isn't easy, it shouldn't be a solo journey. 

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I like the work being done by Worldbrain's Memex project, which I think is worth checking out. I'm caught between Raindrop.io, which I use for bookmarks only and does not track my web history whereas Memex does. 

Thanks! Memex looks good, maybe Ishould reach out to the founder. 

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1acylhalide3moI should probably be asking this on the EA forum but meh, I'll probably post it there tomorrow.
4 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 5:56 PM

You might be interested in reading this paper, which tries to build a vision for just such a tool: Towards a Dynamic Multiscale Personal Information Space (mit.edu).

As far as I know, nothing like it exists yet.

Thanks for this. This seems broader and more open-ended. What I'm asking would probably be an early tractable step towards it.

They did specifically say, on page 6:

3 A PRAGMATIC APPROACH
A long-term research agenda for developing human-centered in- formation spaces is necessarily ambitious. We argue it should be pursued incrementally and strategically by situating initial efforts in the context of specific domain activities and focusing on cen- tral problems of those domains. This approach allows one to nar- row the enormous design space of information behaviors, while chipping away at the cognitive design and systems engineering challenges therein. It should also be informed by theory and data. In our work, we leverage the framework provided by distributed cognition [15, 17] and methods of cognitive ethnography [16]. Dis- tributed cognition seeks to understand the organization of cognitive systems. Unlike explanatory theories of cognition, it extends the reach of what is considered ’cognitive’ beyond the individual to encompass interactions between people and with resources and the material environment. Methods of cognitive ethnography build on this framework, providing tools for determining what things mean to the participants in an activity and for documenting the means by which these meanings are constructed.
Based on our prior work and ecosystem of current tools, we suggest that the activity of data analysis and visualization and the pervasive problem of activity fragmentation are an ideal testing ground for exploring these concepts.

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