The average college students thinks they only spend 30 minutes a day on Facebook. However, we often find ourselves taking breaks from work to go to Facebook, then often spending hours slacking off online, our precious minutes disappearing as we just keep scrolling on. We not only help users become more aware of how much time they are spending online, but deliver a non-intrusive intervention that encourages them to spend time on other sites.

What it does

Effic is a tool that both helps inform users of how much time they are spending online (it uses Chrome extensions’ history functionality to estimate total time spent on sites over the past 3 months). It then delivers two types of interventions by inserting items into users’ newsfeed. The first type shows how much they time have spent in that current session. The second type of item shows links to work-related sites they have earlier visited.

How we built it

Chrome extension and a web service. The web service is built using the MEAN (mongo, express, angular, node) stack. We use D3 to help us make visualizations, and use angular-material for the frontent UI components. The heuristic we use for estimating time spent on sites via the browsing history is that we reconstruct the time users spent on each url and consider the interstitial periods (cutting off long idle times as times when the user was not using the browser); we compared the times estimated by this heuristic to the actual recorded time and it is highly correlated.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We make use of browsing histories in a novel way. We not only inform users about their browsing habits, but also help improve them. Facebook feed injection is a passive, non-intrusive way to deliver persuasive messaging to users.

What's next for Effic

Outside just your Facebook feed, can we inject these messages into other slacking sites? For example, once you finish watching a video on Youtube, can we show you a message encouraging you to go off to Coursera and finish watching your lectures?

We also want to deliver more rich types of interventions. Right now we just show you links to some past sites that you have spent time on in the past 24 hours which are work-related. But can we use your browsing history to recommend new materials to you? For example, can we show you educational materials you’d be interested in?

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