Idea: Toward Better Browser History (and bookmarks) - Visual History

Consider a UI where, when you navigate, you see a quick, translucent graph of the sites you've visited overlaid over the browser content window. You get the option of clicking one of these ghostly icons. When you hit the back button, take a different path, a new "branch" is added to the tree. Over the course of seconds, the graph fades away. Call it "Visual History".

The data (your navigation tree, or "Visual History") could be stored locally, or shared, perhaps as simple HTML with some JSON meta-data. Sharing would be as simple as posting some HTML/JavaScript somewhere.

This would be the natural place to hang other meta-data, such as date of last visit, how many times you've visited, whether you "dugg" it, tagging (bookmark tagging is a nice feature of FireFox 3.0!) Of course, some this information probably wouldn't be very useful shared, and so would be elided on output.

I see this data structure as being "seeded" passively, and then actively maintained, perhaps by collaborators. It would be a visualization of some of the same things that are being done by human powered directories like But instead of lists of things, you get graphs, with lots of juicy meta data, etc.

The thing I really like about this idea is that it scales from something you could personally use all the way up to something everyone could use. It even has both passive and active data accumulation features, which is great.

I've always thought history and bookmarks lost a lot of information - yes, that URL bookmark or history entry is quite useful and wonderful, but how did you find it? That's perhaps even more important, as gateway sites tend to be used more than destination sites, and are somehow easier to forget in light of the 600lb Goorilla (heh, just made that up!). Indeed, if such a system got popular I think people would use specialist gateway sites and search more often than they do today where we all just "Google it". The marginally better results we get elsewhere just isn't worth the inconvenience of remembering another URL. For now. And anyone who knows me knows that I think concentration of power is never a good thing.

In a small related note, you may be noticing these little popups that preview a link. It's a handy, if somewhat superfluous thing which will probably go away in time. But you could present these "super-bookmarks" in a similar way, and that would be useful. I mean, the ideal client would be a browser addon, but you could get a lot of milage out of the data even without the addon.

[Update: one other big reason this needs to be done, memory. Sometimes I can't remember a site, but I might remember how I got there.]

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