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What is

LineHive is two concepts in one:

  • Line: the sequences that users around the web deem most useful for any domain, topic, or genre.
  • Hive: in the same way that Digg gets interesting content crowdsourced and Google leverages crowdsourced relationships between pages via links, we are leveraging the 'hive mind' to identify the most useful sequences of websites/links.

How it works

Users can define a sequence of websites by pasting URLs into a box, adding a short caption, and pressing 'Create'. Our site parses the sites and gets the title, date, and thumbnail. They are aggregated into a simple timeline visualization.

Each timeline has a unique URL and can be embedded like a YouTube clip on any page. Clicking on the timeline elements take you to the target page. In this way, paths through the web are crowdsourced. Users can tell short stories to one another and those stories are grounded in web media, don't require writing a bunch of text, and exist for anybody to reference from anywhere. In this process of massive communication, users begin to see the ways in which others search and browse the web. Search literacy grows virally.

Creating timelines

There are two ways to create a timeline:

The user just gets the right URLs, we do the rest.

Who will use LineHive?

Imagine students in English, Science, Journalism, History, and Biology creating "linkliographies" that show the sequence of their steps to finding resources and submitting that along with their homework. It automatically creates a nice timeline for the teacher to understand the student's thought process.

Imagine students sending each other timelines and these timelines spreading virally such that the most useful timeline in the class (created by Suzy) is seen by all the students and she gets 'credit' for it (her creation has a URL and a caption).

Imagine a person explaining to another person how to use a website or how to explore Wikipedia. Instead of creating a screencast, tour, or blog entry where they have to explain in text how to do it, they just create a timeline by adding a few links and a caption.

Features coming soon...

  • Jetpack shows all the links in your stack
  • Jetpack allows you to create the trail without visiting
  • when on a page that other people have created timelines for, the Jetpack will display an information message -- the Jetpack will show the controversies and debates that surround the article in question.
  • Jetpack will show the timeline as its being created
  • timelines on will be embeddable (without Flash)
  • timelines on will have fisheye magnification
  • timelines on will cluster overlapping links & allow drill-down

Theoretical motivation

The design of LineHive is deceptively simple. Much thought, design, and re-design work went into LineHive to create something simple enough that it could be used across genres, classes, age groups, and domains. We are shooting for elegance, not over-engineering.

The design of learning technologies is non-trivial. They are not simply "productivity" apps for classrooms, teachers, and students. Learning differs from productivity. The most effective way of designing learning applications is to have some learning theory or framework in mind that your work stems from.

One step closer to 'memex'

Our work is in part an attempt to realize Vannevar Bush's idea of "associative trails", part of his "memex" vision. Bush wanted linear sequences of 'frames' to be found and transferred between people. Hyperlinks and bookmark collections (even social ones) do not satisfy this vision.

"...modern hypertext systems have rarely imitated Bush in providing individuals with the ability to create personal trails and share them with colleagues - or publish them widely." -Wikipedia

We feel we will succeed where others have failed because:

  • we are focusing on the expressivity and storytelling rather than the personal organization
  • we are leveraging a well-understood metaphor (the timeline)
  • the output is visual, scannable, embeddable and, hopefully, viral
  • we are succinct and playful
  • we are not relying upon the Jetpack to do the heavy lifting but to augment the web experience.

Develop information literacy socially

How did you learn to search the web? Do you have any idea if you are an excellent or novice searcher or not? Think about it. The problem is we don't know how each other are searching and browsing.

Web search skills develop in isolation, solitary, on the computer. There are few things in life we learn quite like this. We have no search mentors or any real sense of 'good' or 'bad' searchers.

We are convinced that the best way to address the problem of information illiteracy is through social means, and through the design of technologies themselves.

Cognitive apprenticeship

This work rests upon the theory of cognitive apprenticeship (Collins, Brown, & Newman, 1987), which in turn inherits from cognitive modeling. In cognitive apprenticeship, a learner is exposed to the normally-tacit cognitive processes that give an expert their expertise. These processes are often subconscious and the expert may not even be aware of them.

In LineHive, other surfers are able to see the browsing and searching strategies of their peers. We hypothesize that increasing the ability for users to send path information to peers will increase the sender's own metacognitive awareness of the path they are taking, turning searchers into "reflective practitioners" (Schon, 1983) of web search.