Washington, November 18 : A team of researchers from the University of Washington and Adobe Systems Inc. have unveiled an intuitive application called Zoetrope, with which an Internet user can easily search out old data.
"Your browser is really just a window into the Web as it exists today. When you search for something online, you're only getting today's results," said Eytan Adar, a University of Washington computer science and engineering doctoral student.
He and his colleagues say that Zoetrope can enable one to grab hold of historical sites, which tend to disappear due to a rapid change in web pages.
Though a service called the Internet Archive has been capturing old versions of Web sites for years, the records for the stored sites are inconsistent and there is no easy way to search the archive.
While making a presentation at the ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology in Monterey, California, the researchers said that Zoetrope could enable everyone to use easy keyword searches to find archived Web information or look for patterns over time.
Adar said that Zoetrope could also capture and help analyse information that might otherwise not be available anywhere.
He revealed that he had used Zoetrope to find daily records of pollution levels in Beijing, and the number of world records broken in the 2008 Olympics on each day, to see whether fewer records were broken on days with high pollution levels.
Dan Weld, a UW computer science and engineering professor who also worked on the application, said: "Zoetrope is aimed at the casual researcher. It's really for anyone who has a question."
Adar said that Zoetrope could eventually be built in to any other Web browser.
He revealed that the application could presently save a new version of approximately 1,000 different sites every hour. He, however, added that it could some day be enabled to incorporate information from the Internet Archive's nearly 14 years of records.
The researchers hope to release Zoetrope free, and say that it may be available as early as next summer.