Tuesday, June 9, 2015

2015-06-09: Mobile Mink merges the mobile and desktop webs

As part of my 9-to-5 job at The MITRE Corporation, I lead several STEM outreach efforts in the local academic community. One of our partnerships with the New Horizon's Governor's School for Science and Technology pairs high school seniors with professionals in STEM careers. Wes Jordan has been working with me since October 2014 as part of this program and for his senior mentorship project as a requirement for graduation from the Governor's School.

Wes has developed Mobile Mink (soon to be available in the Google Play store). Inspired by Mat Kelly's Mink add-on for Chrome, Wes adapted the functionality to an Android application. This blog post discusses the motivation for and operation of Mobile Mink.

Motivation

The growth of the mobile web has encouraged web archivists to focus on ensuring its thorough archiving. However, the mobile URIs are not as prevalent in the archives as their non-mobile (or as we will refer to them: desktop) URIs. This is apparent when we compare the TimeMaps of the Android Central site (with desktop URI http://www.androidcentral.com/ and a mobile URI http://m.androidcentral.com/).

TimeMap of the desktop Android Central URI
 The 2014 TimeMap in the Internet Archive of the desktop Android Central URI includes a large number of mementos with a small number of gaps in archival coverage.
TimeMap of the mobile Android Central URI
Alternatively, the TimeMap in the Internet Archive of the mobile Android Central URI has far fewer mementos and many more gaps in archival coverage.

This example illustrates the discrepancy between archival coverage of mobile vs desktop URIs. Additionally, as humans we can understand that these two URIs are representing content from the same site: Android Central. The connection between the URIs is represented in the live web, with mobile user-agents triggering a redirect to the mobile URI. This connection is lost during archiving.



The representations of the mobile and desktop URIs are different, even though a human will recognize the content as largely the same. Because archives commonly index by URI and archival datetime only, a machine may not be able to understand that these URIs are related.
The desktop Android Central representation
The mobile Android Central representation

Mobile Mink helps merge the mobile and desktop TimeMaps while also also providing a mechanism to increase the archival coverage of mobile URIs. We detail these features in the Implementation section.

Implementation

Mobile Mink provides users with a merged TimeMap of mobile and desktop versions of the same site. We use the URI permutations detailed in McCown's work to transform desktop URIs to mobile URIs (e.g., http://www.androidcentral.com/ -> http://m.anrdoidcentral.com/) and mobile URIs to desktop URIs (e.g., http://m.androidcentral.com/ -> http://www.androidcentral.com/). This process allows Mobile Mink to establish the connection between mobile and desktop URIs.



Merged TimeMap
With the mobile and desktop URIs identified, Mobile Mink uses Memento to retrieve the TimeMaps of both the desktop and mobile versions of the site. Mobile Mink merges all of the returned TimeMaps and sorts the mementos temporally, identifying the mementos of the mobile URIs with an orange icon of a mobile phone and the mementos of the desktop URIs with a green icon of a PC monitor.

To mitigate the discrepancy in archival coverage between the mobile and desktop URIs of web resources, Mobile Mink provides an option to allow users to push the mobile and desktop URIs to the Save Page Now feature at the Internet Archive and to Archive.today. This will allow Mobile Mink's users to actively archive mobile resources that may not be otherwise archived.

These features mirror the functionality of Mink by providing users with a TimeMap of the site currently being viewed, but extends Mink's functionality by providing the merged mobile and desktop TimeMap. Mink also provides a feature to submit URIs to Archive.today and the Save Page Now feature, but Mobile Mink extends this functionality by submitting the mobile and desktop URIs to these two archival services.

Demonstration

The video below provides a demo of Mobile Mink. We use the Chrome browser and navigate to http://www.androidcentral.com/, which redirects us to http://m.androidcentral.com/. From the browser menu, we select the "Share" option. When we select the "View Mementos" option, Mobile Mink provides the aggregate TimeMap. Selecting the icon in the top right corner, we can access the menu to submit the mobile and desktop URIs to Archive.today and/or the Internet Archive.


Next Steps

We plan to release Mobile Mink in the Google Play store in the next few weeks. In the mean time, please feel free to download and use the app from Wes's GitHub repository (https://github.com/Thing342/MobileMemento) and provide feedback to through the issues tracker (https://github.com/Thing342/MobileMemento/issues). We will continue to test and refine the software moving forward.

Wes's demo of MobileMink was accepted at JCDL2015. Because he is graduating in June and preparing to start his collegiate career at Virginia Tech, someone from the WS-DL lab will be presenting his work on his behalf. However, we hope to convince Wes to come to the Dark Side and join the WS-DL lab in the future. We have cookies.

--Justin F. Brunelle

No comments:

Post a Comment