Margin Notes is a system that automatically annotates every webpage you visit with links to other potentially useful documents. For example, if you are researching a paper online the system will add links to the abstracts of related papers from the INSPEC database of IEEE papers. Margin Notes is one of a suite of remembrance agents I am developing for my Ph.D. thesis. See the above link for papers on remembrance agents in general and to download the Emacs version of the RA.
First, I'd appreciate it if you could sign up so I can ask for feedback and announce changes. It's not necessary, so you can skip this step if you'd prefer.
I am running two lab-wide margin notes systems, one using the public media-lab mailing list archives and one using a subset of the INSPEC database of IEEE and ACM abstracts.
To use the labwide mail archives version, set your HTTP proxy to host
"remem.media.mit.edu", port "1111".
To use the INSPEC version, set your HTTP proxy to host "remem.media.mit.edu", port "2222".
To set your proxy:
IE5: Tools->Internet Options->Connections->LAN Settings->Proxy
IE4: View->Internet Options->Connections->LAN Settings->Proxy
That's it, it should all be running. Take a look at the descriptions below for more info on exactly what it's doing.
As far as I know, the system works on all versions of Netscape and IE except early versions of Mac Netscape (3.02) and Windows Netscape 4.08. On modern Linux Netscapes the window for the full suggestion is bigger than it should be but other than that it works fine.
If you are using the labwide mail archives version (remem port 1111) then these annotations come from the public mail archives that are world-readable in /mas/disks/library/Mail-Archives/ and /mas/disks/mas7/mail/archive/ (not counting symbolic links). This is around 180,000 email messages.
If you are using the INSPEC version (remem port 2222) then the annotations come from a subset of INSPEC, the IEEE database of journal, conference and workshop paper abstracts and annotations. The subset consists of about 150,000 abstracts in areas relevant to research at the Media Lab.
The red circles represent the relevance of the annotation. The more circles that are filled in red, the more relevant the annotation is likely to be.
Putting the mouse over an annotation gets a pull-down display showing the top five keywords that led to that suggestion. The words are in the order that they contributed to the suggestion (most important first).
Click on the suggestion to get the full information.
At the top of the suggested text are five buttons: Bad, So-so, OK, Good, and Great. These are used by me to evaluate the system. After viewing a suggestion, please click on one of the buttons to log how useful the annotation was. Note that useful is not necessarily the same as relevance. For example, if you already know about a paper being suggested then that annotation might be relevant but not useful.
At the bottom of every document with a black margin (that is, more than 1750 characters) is a red status bar. The bar gets filled in as more annotations are completed, and will be completely filled when all annotations are completed. Of course, you can always go to a new page before the annotations are complete.
Above the line are two links, "Autobug" and "Email". Click on Email to send a comment to the Margin Notes team. If you don't want to spend the time sending email, but the page you're looking at is in some way screwed up or misformatted because of Margin Notes, you can also just hit the "Auto Bug-report this page" button and a log entry will automatically be added indicating that we should look at that page and try to fix the problem. This line is also useful to tell if the Margin Notes system is running.
The system is only available from media lab machines. The indexer for the mailing list archives only looks at files that are world readable, and does not follow symbolic links. However, I understand that there may still be archives that people would rather not be indexed, even though they are world readable. I am currently maintaining a list of files to be excluded from the indexing. If there is a file you wish me to add to that list, please send me mail and I will add it to the exclude list.
Margin Notes logs how many suggestions are listed per page, their relevance scores, when new pages are loaded, whether suggestions are followed, and your own ranking of those pages. For privacy, it does not logs URLs that are visited, the machine from which the browsing was done, errors on loading pages, annotations listed for a page, or keywords associated with the page.
Thanks for using Margin Notes, and please send me comments, suggestions, and questions as they arise.