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Using semantics and user participation to customize personalization

by Davide Eynard
HP Laboratories Technical Report HPL-2008-197 ()


Personalization and customization are two techniques that allow systems to provide users an experience which is tailored to their preferences. Looking at the huge success many customization tools had, not just on a particular set of expert users but also on the wide Internet public, we decided to make personalization customizable, that is to allow users access their own personal profile and build custom applications that exploit it. To do this, we chose a specific use case: the information that users leave when they use their browsers, that is the history of the visited websites and the collection of their bookmarks. We then converted this information from the proprietary format used by Firefox 3 in an open, RDF-based format. We built tools to do the conversion offline or in realtime and a browser extension that uses these data to provide new, potentially interesting, information. The whole set of tools is built to be extensible, so it makes heavy use of configuration files that can be easily modified by users to provide additional features. As an example, we developed two plugins: one for the visualization of user history, using Google's MotionChart, and one for enhancing browsing with related information which are downloaded in realtime from Freebase. Finally, we evaluated our approach to enhanced browsing using both Freebase and Nielsen datasets.

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