Corin Anderson (magellanic) wrote,
Corin Anderson


I learned only today that I have a patent (US Pat. 7,203,909):

System and methods for constructing personalized context-sensitive portal pages or views by analyzing patterns of users' information access activities


The present invention relates to a system and methodology to assist users with data access activities and that includes such activities as routine web browsing and/or data access applications. A coalesced display or montage of aggregated information is provided that is focused from a plurality of sources to achieve substantially one-button access to user's desired web or data source information/destinations in order to mitigate efforts in retrieving and viewing such information. Past web or other type data access patterns can be mined to predict future browsing sites or desired access locations. A system is provided that builds personalized web portals for associated users based on models mined from past data access patterns. The portals can provide links to web resources as well as embed content from distal (remote) pages or sites producing a montage of web or other type data content. Automated topic classification is employed to create multiple topic-centric views that can be invoked by a user.

It's a patent for my work on Montage I did at MSR in the summer of 2001. Montage is a system for creating dynamic personal portal pages, personalized by your access patterns. Do you always look at 511 at 6p when you're leaving work? Do you always read your web comics at 9a when you're first logging in? Do you check stock quotes at 1:30 when 20-minute delayed quotes are final for the day? Montage mined these patterns from web usage logs and would dynamically fill a web page with its best guess at the appropriate content given the context of browsing. It was neat work but I don't much believe in that sort of adaptability anymore. People build models of how they expect computers (or any interfaces) to work. A model of is "I can buy things here." A model for is "it'll show some news items, some ads, some naviagtional links, and a search box." The model for Montage wasn't intuitive: "it'll show me 'what I want', maybe." Unless maybe is very very frequently, the user is surprised whenever they visit their montage page, and it takes the person more cognitive effort to grok that page than to visit 511, web comics, or stock quotes directly. At least, that's my current thinking, and that's why I'm not super excited by working in this space anymore.

But, anyhow, pretty neat: I have a patent to my name (well, behind Eric Horvitz's name; Eric was my intern sponsor and lead most of the brainstorming for Montage). And it took only a bit more than 5 years since it was filed in order to be issued. ... heh, that's a subject for another time.
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