Mindreading webpages!

Ben Adida brings our attention to this cool, but evil, hack for seeing into your visitor’s minds!

Aza Raskin’s hack is a bit of java script that lets you adjust the web page based on the user’s browsing history, say to show the bookmarking links that this user actually uses.  I was quite amused at Aza’s use of the term village bicycle  to describe a page that links indiscriminately to dozens of 3rd party sites; it reminded me of the term link slut.  This technique works because you can put a few dozen links on your web page and then using java script the page can glean out which ones the visitor has previously visited; using that data the javascript can then customize the page.

But now I’m fascinated by the idea that you could build pages using this technique that glean estimates of various attributes about the visitor.  For example say you put a few dozen each of left wing and right wing political sites and then compute a score for where on the political spectrum the visitor is.  It would be fun to make a bunch of examples.  Age, sex, politics, income, etc.  Each one of these could be distilled down to a single Javascript widget, it might display a badge.  An exercise for and upon the reader.

This is a perfect example of the kind of thing which Caja[1,2,3] is meant to fix.  We should all send positive thoughts in that projects direction at regular intervals.

2 thoughts on “Mindreading webpages!

  1. Pingback: Internet Alchemy » links for 2008-06-03

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