Once upon a time, the sites you visited were held on your computer, and could only be shared by cutting and pasting the link. Then, along came social bookmarks, with sites such as Delicious, Digg, Stumbleupon allowing you to share your bookmarks with a private or public audience.

Now, we are entering the next phase, which could be seen to be a natural progression from social search engines, where users provide the answers to your search ‘research’, through social bookmarks, to actually making your clickstream live and open to anyone who you choose to see it. In other words, you would be making your history file visible on the Net.

For some, this may seem to be a step too far, but there will be many who have nothing to hide and are more than happy for the world to see exactly what it is they are finding interesting. It could become a useful method of saving your History in the cloud. Another place where this could prove useful is for collaboration on projects, so that each person working on a project can share all of their research findings from surfing.

For internet marketing agencies and businesses, it is yet another place to be listed to help provide backlinks to sites. However, at this stage, when such sites are very new to the market, the quality and authority of such links is still debatable.

Sites such as voyurl, sitesimon and the soon to be launched discovrme all permit the user to choose how much of their surfing history, in real time, they wish to be shared, and with whom.

Voyurl addresses the privacy issues on its front page and its likely that many would have concerns about enabling such a tool or app in their browser, and the benefits of doing so. However, as users have become seemingly even less concerned about privacy online – e.g. posting photos that normally they would not have wanted printing let alone publishing, or sharing intimate details of their lives with relative strangers,  such as relationship status – perhaps publishing your clickstream will become less of a concern.

Businesses wishing to show their network that they are actively interested in what those people following them are doing, talking about etc, could publish their clickstream to help add a layer of personality to the company – a human side, if you wish. However, the resources required to deliver this level of interaction with customers or audience could prove difficult to justify to the budget department unless it can be translated into increased brand awareness or sales.

One place it could be useful would be as an automated mechanism to record all sites visited during, for instance, a linking strategy exercise, particularly as the majority of sites which offer this ‘live history’ service also seem to offer the chance to review sites visited, make notes, and so on.

It remains to be seen what internet marketing uses such services can be put to as they mature in 2011.

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About the author:

A practising internet marketing consultant since 1996, Lindsey Annison helps companies improve their website marketing, online PR and information architecture. Lindsey is also a qualified adult education lecturer and author. As co-founder of the Access to Broadband Campaign, she has been instrumental in the provision of high-speed internet access to rural areas in the UK. Lindsey is also a past winner of Silicon.com's Outstanding Contribution to UK Technology