Mozilla launches Context Graph discovery engine

July 7, 2016 // 10:31 a.m.

Tags: #activity-stream #beta #browser #content-discovery #context-graph #firefox #forward-button #mozilla #nick-nguyen #test-pilot

Mozilla has unveiled a new feature for its open-source web browser, Firefox, which aims to make the underused Forward button more useful: Context Graph.

Announced by Firefox vice president Nick Nguyen on blogging site Medium late last night, Context Graph aims to add new functionality to the Forward button - typically used only when you hit Back by mistake. At its heart, Context Graph is a content recommendation engine which can underpin a variety of services; its first implementation, though, is to power a Firefox feature - currently in Test Pilot beta mode - dubbed the Activity Stream.

'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,' explained Nguyen of his vision for the Activity Stream feature. 'For instance, if you're learning about how to do something new, like bike repair, our Forward button should help you learn bike repair based on others who have taken the same journey. This should work regardless of whom you're connected to, because your social network shouldn’t be a prerequisite for getting the most from the web.'

Nguyen has reassured users that they will still be in control of the feature, in an attempt to head off concerns that Mozilla may use the Activity Stream as less of a recommendation engine and more of a potential revenue stream. 'We also believe there is no necessary trade off to be made between user control and personalisation, and we will prove that these products are achievable without violating user trust or privacy. We will work to make sure our users understand what they’re sharing and the value they get in return. True to our open heritage, our methods will be open for scrutiny by anyone.'

More information on the Context Graph is expected to be published in the near future on the project wiki page, while Activity Stream can be installed in Firefox now from the Test Pilot site.
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