Changing How People View Changes on the Web

The Web is a dynamic information environment. Web content changes regularly and people revisit Web pages frequently. But the tools used to access the Web, including browsers and search engines, do little to explicitly support these dynamics. In this paper we present DiffIE, a browser plug-in that makes content change explicit in a simple and lightweight manner. DiffIE caches the pages a person visits and highlights how those pages have changed when the person returns to them. We describe how we built a stable, reliable, and usable system, including how we created compact, privacy-preserving page representations to support fast difference detection. Via a longitudinal user study, we explore how DiffIE changed the way people dealt with changing content. We find that much of its benefit came not from exposing expected change, but rather from drawing attention to unexpected change and helping people build a richer understanding of the Web content they frequent.

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In  Proc. UIST '09

Publisher  Association for Computing Machinery, Inc.
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