Mozilla's Context Graph Reimagines Browsing Experiences

by Ostatic Staff - Jul. 07, 2016

Mozilla has a way of popping up with unexpected projects that it opens up for community development, and it has now unveiled a project called the Context Graph. The effort is focused on the answer to this question: "What if web browsers were immediately useful instead of demanding input when you launched them?"

"The largest button on a modern browser is the back button," Mozilla's Nick Nguyen writes. "Trips to the web are short. Enter a search, get a result, click back, then try again. This feels backwards (forgive the pun!). What if there was a better forward button? One that helps you understand a topic better or find alternative solutions to a problem you’re solving?"

Context Graph is essentially a recommender system for the web. As an example use case, if you’re learning about how to do something new, like bike repair, a forward button on your browser might help you learn bike repair based on the experiences of others who have taken the same journey.

According to Nguyen:

"Using context to get you what you want on mobile is especially important. Who wants to type on a tiny screen? What if we did more to bring the right web page to you on your mobile device? Beyond just your history, we could use your location to return the most useful websites for where you are in the world. Wikipedia articles, company pages, and URLs emitted from Bluetooth beacons are all fair game. Do these features have to be in our browser, or can we bring the best version of the mobile web in every browser? We aim to build apps that are intended to help us quickly learn the right path. The light we want to set free need not be trapped in traditional form factors or applications, just as the web itself is evolving rapidly to support entirely new uses and platforms."

"Activity Stream is the first Context Graph feature, currently available in Test Pilot. Initially a much better way to get you to where you’ve been, it will evolve into also helping you discover places on the web you’ve never seen. We’re building it for both desktop and mobile platforms, and we will continue to do this by building our new products on all the platforms that our users spend time on today."

"Tackling the Context Graph is the perfect challenge for Firefox because it is one that nobody else will....We’re working on how we can collect data with a group of volunteer users so that we can start building experimental systems for making contextual recommendations...We’ll do this in the only way we know how — by being open and getting help and advice from anyone who wants to contribute..."

 A context-sensitive forward button for your browser? It sounds like an interesting concept, and we will follow up on pilot tests from Mozilla.