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MIT's Eyebrowse To Rank and Review Internet Sites, While Retaining Privacy (thestack.com) 28

An anonymous reader writes: MIT has launched a new scheme whereby participating users can voluntarily share data on their website viewing habits, via the use of a Google Chrome extension and by signing up to an MIT website. The scheme, called Eyebrowse, began development in 2010 and has been in closed beta for the last 18 months. Cornell information science professor Mor Naaman says of the project: "Data has traditionally been used by anyone from corporations to the government...but the goal of this system is to make the data more useful for the individuals themselves, to give them more control, and to make it more useful to communities."
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MIT's Eyebrowse To Rank and Review Internet Sites, While Retaining Privacy

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  • Biased results (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Flavianoep ( 1404029 ) on Monday March 07, 2016 @09:04AM (#51652793)
    As the scheme will only work with Google Chrome (and perhaps, Chromium), the results will only represent habits of user of such browser.
    • by alvinrod ( 889928 ) on Monday March 07, 2016 @09:11AM (#51652809)
      Yes, but do you really want to know what Internet Explorer users are looking at on the web?

      Feature, not a bug.
    • by KGIII ( 973947 )

      Opera, Vivaldi, and (I think) most browsers based on Chromium use the same extensions so it may work with other browsers but probably isn't directly supported. I don't imagine there will be much problem using it with any of them unless it has Chrome-specific hooks that I'm unaware of. For example, I've yet to find any extension for Chrome that did not also work with Opera.

      I used to need an extension to import them easily but I could always unpack them, enter developer mode, and add them that way. The Opera

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Maybe I'm out of date, but isn't that an alpha?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The difference between an alpha and a beta is that a beta is feature complete.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Are you calling Windows 10 feature complete? ;)

  • by koan ( 80826 )

    "but the goal of this system is to make the data more useful for the individuals themselves, to give them more control, and to make it more useful to communities."

    That may or may not be his intention, but once out ti will be used for... "whatever".

  • Help us build it! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Karger ( 259348 ) on Monday March 07, 2016 @12:51PM (#51654073) Homepage

    Eyebrowse is open source---at https://github.com/haystack/ey... [github.com] --- and that we'd love your help making it better.

    I'll also correct a few inaccuracies in the title of the post
    * it won't let you rank or review sites (yet)
    * Rather than unyieldingly "privacy preserving" our idea is to let *you* decide what parts of your web activity you want to share. Many people would like to have a more social experience on the web, for the same reason that people like to go outside, run into friends, and see where crowds are gathering. But we argue that you, rather than the tracking agencies, should be in charge of deciding which parts of your activity should be visible.

    • by KGIII ( 973947 )

      > people like to go outside

      You do know where you are, right? ;-)

      • Indeed, this is the Slashdot realm, my friend. Forget about going out, is that even a word?

        - our only travels: from the basement to the fridge and back
        - our only desire: more of that nerdy crap
        - our only girlfriends: a set of nicely shaped pixels

        This is who we are!
    • by whh3 ( 450031 )

      * Rather than unyieldingly "privacy preserving" our idea is to let *you* decide what parts of your web activity you want to share. Many people would like to have a more social experience on the web, for the same reason that people like to go outside, run into friends, and see where crowds are gathering. But we argue that you, rather than the tracking agencies, should be in charge of deciding which parts of your activity should be visible.

      I agree that any unyielding stance is no good. Yes, I also agree that letting the user decide is a good thing. However, the problem comes with reasonable defaults. Most users are not savvy enough (myself included) to know what data is being shared by default. For instance, after reading this headline I would have imagined that there would be a significant amount of privacy protection enabled from the start. Making reasonably safe defaults and adding reasonable, clear, concise warnings is really hard but rea

  • Retaining Privacy? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by WoOS ( 28173 ) on Monday March 07, 2016 @02:31PM (#51654709)

    The "retaining privacy" part of the posting's title only refers to the ability to prevent some websites to be listed. Everything else is public. From the FAQ [mit.edu]:

    • How much of my browsing data does Eyebrowse collect?

      Eyebrowse only collects data from the domains that you give it permission to collect. ...

    • Is the data I put on my Eyebrowse feed public?

      Yes. ....

    • Exactly what fields are collected with each visit?

      From every visit that is collected from Eyebrowse, we collect the time you entered the page and the time you leave the page. From the webpage, we store the url, [....] . Finally, the visit is associated with your Eyebrowse account. ...

    They specifically warn that even an anonymous eyebrowse account can be potentially tracked back to a user by his browsing behaviour. It appears the title of the posting promises more than the mechanism keeps. No wonder for a webservice promising to get you in touch with like-minded (or -browsing) people.

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