Relation of Local Documents to Browsed Web Pages

Jacques, Y. (2007). Relation of Local Documents to Browsed Web Pages. Student dissertation for The Open University module M801 MSc in Software Development Research Dissertation.

Please note that this student dissertation is made available in the format that it was submitted for examination, thus the author has not been able to correct errors and/or departures from academic standards in areas such as referencing.



The relation between browsed web pages and local documents is of increasing interest as the browser takes centre stage and web indexes grow into the billions. Users are storing and accessing their data both locally and online. The division between what is remote and what is local is breaking down and yet a huge gulf remains. There is a need for research on self-adapting interfaces that contextualise the user experience to reduce system complexity. Part of this larger task lies in reducing the distance between remote and local resources. The author developed a browser plug-in that presented users with local documents associated to browsed web pages to test the nature of the relation between remote and local resources. Users were profiled and tested in various contexts, performing work, research, search and personal tasks. They examined the relations between the pages they were browsing, their characterization as key phrases and the documents on their computers, rating the relevance and utility of contextualised local resources in a self adapting interface. The application also logged user actions over a period of half a year as they used or ran the application in the background while browsing, providing a vital source of data about the relation between the web and desktop computers. Though the user group was too small to be considered statistically relevant, preliminary findings revealed that users indicated high relevance between local and remote resources when performing work, research and search tasks, and that contextualised interfaces could reduce cognitive load, minimizing the effort in finding local resources related to browsing activity.

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