2014-10-03: Integrating the Live and Archived Web Viewing Experience with Mink

The goal of the Memento project is to provide a tighter integration between the past and current web.    There are a number of clients now that provide this functionality, but they remain silent about the archived page until the user remembers to invoke them (e.g., by right-clicking on a link).

We have created another approach based on persistently reminding the user just how well archived (or not) are the pages they visit.  The Chrome extension Mink (short for Minkowski Space) queries all the public web archives (via the Memento aggregator) in the background and will display the number of mementos (that is, the number of captures of the web page) available at the bottom right of the page.  Selecting the indicator allows quick access to the mementos through a dropdown.  Once in the archives, returning to the live web is as simple as clicking the "Back to Live Web" button.

For the case where there are too many mementos to make navigating an extensive list useable (think CNN.com captures), we have provided a "Miller Columns" interface that allows hierarchical navigation and is common in many operating systems (though most don't know it by name).

For the opposite case where there are no mementos for a page, Mink provides a one-click interface to submit the page to Internet Archive or Archive.today for immediate preservation and provides just-as-quick access to the archived page.

Mink can be used concurrently with Memento for Chrome, which provides a different modality of letting the user specify desired Memento-Datetime as well as reading cues provided by the HTML pages themselves.  For those familiar with Memento terminology, Memento for Chrome operates on TimeGates and Mink operates on TimeMaps.  We also presented a poster about Mink at JCDL 2014 in London (proceedings, poster, video).

Mink is for Chrome, free, publicly available (go ahead and try it now!), and open source (so you know there's no funny business going on).

—Mat (@machawk1)