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RECEIVING SEARCH USAGE CREDIT
SAVING AND/OR TRANSMITTING USAGE
AND/OR BOOKMARK INFORMATION
DETECTING USAGE OF DOCUMENT
DISPLAYING DOCUMENT AND DOCUMENT
RECEIVING DOCUMENT AND DOCUMENT
UTILIZATION INFORMATION AL8
TRANSMITTING REQUEST FOR DOCUMENT
AND DOCUMENT UTILIZATION
TRANSMITTING AN INDICATION OF THE SEARCH RESULTS TO REQUESTING USER 616
GENERATING SEARCH RESULTS 612
SYSTEMS, METHODS, AND MEDIA FOR
AWARDING CREDITS BASED ON PROVIDED
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED 5
This application is related to U.S. patent application No. 11/032,872, entitled "SYSTEMS, METHODS, AND MEDIA FOR UTILIZING ELECTRONIC DOCUMENT 10 USAGE INFORMATION WITH SEARCH ENGINES", filed on the same day.
FIELD OF INVENTION
The present invention is in the field of data processing systems and, in particular, to systems, methods and media for awarding usage credits to users, particularly for awarding usage credits based on providing usage information relating to electronic documents. 20
Personal computer systems are well known in the art. They have attained widespread use for providing computer power 25 to many segments of today's modem society. Personal computers (PCs) may be defined as a desktop, floor standing, or portable microcomputer that includes a system unit having a central processing unit (CPU) and associated volatile and non-volatile memory, including random access memory 30 (RAM) and basic input/output system read only memory (BIOS ROM), a system monitor, a keyboard, one or more flexible diskette drives, a CD-ROM drive, a fixed disk storage drive (also known as a "hard drive"), a pointing device such as a mouse, and an optional network interface adapter. 35 Examples of such personal computer systems are International Business Machine Corp.'s (IBM's) ThinkCentreTM, ThinkPadTM, AptivaTM, andlntelliStationTM series of personal computers. The use of mobile computing devices, such as notebook PCs, personal digital assistants (PDAs), tablet PCs, 40 sophisticated wireless phones, etc., has also become widespread. Mobile computing devices typically exchange some functionality or performance when compared to traditional PCs in exchange for smaller size, portable power, and mobility. 45
The widespread use of PCs and mobile computing devices in various segments of society has resulted in a reliance on computer systems both at work and at home, such as for telecommuting, news, stock market information and trading, banking, shopping, shipping, communication in the form of 50 hypertext transfer protocol (http) and e-mail, as well as other services. Many of these functions take advantage of the communication abilities offered by the Internet. Such connectivity has facilitated unprecedented amounts of collaboration and sharing of information between individuals, both within 55 organizations and outside organizational structures. This collaboration has resulted in individuals having access to and sharing vast amounts of information, often in the form of electronic documents. Electronic documents are digitized documents that contain text, graphics, photographs, etc., and 60 can be read by various computer systems. Electronic documents may be in any file format, such as Portable Network Graphics (PNG), Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG), Graphics Interchange Format (GIF), Tag Image File Format (TIFF), Microsoft Word (DOC), Hypertext Markup Lan- 65 guage (HTML), Adobe Systems Inc.'s Portable Document Format (PDF), etc. For many applications, electronic docu
ments, particularly PDF documents, have supplanted printed material for the dissemination of information, as many journals, newsletters, books, articles, etc., are now distributed either exclusively or non-exclusively in electronic form.
While electronic documents possess improved qualities in many ways over hardcopies, such as cost, easy of distribution, and time to prepare, disadvantages of electronic documents when compared to paper documents do exist. One deficiency of electronic documents is that it is often difficult to find the most interesting or useful part of an electronic book or other document. With a paper book, individuals may observe which pages are the most worn or the pages to which the book naturally opens due to frequent reading of those pages. One can easily discern which book in, say, a library is the most useful based on its wear, and one can also often find the most useful part of the book by noting the wear caused by frequent reading. Because of the fixed nature of an electronic document, electronic documents fail to provide such indications of frequently-read or particularly useful sections of the document.
The vast amount of content, including electronic documents, available on public networks such as the Internet often makes it difficult for users to find useful and relevant information. Accordingly, many people utilize search engines to assist them in their search. Search engines are programs that search documents on a network for specified keywords and return to the requester a list of documents where the keywords were found. Typically, a search engine works by sending out a "spider" to fetch as many documents as possible, after which an "indexer" reads the documents and creates an index for the words contained in each document. Each search engine then typically creates indices using a proprietary algorithm so that meaningful results are returned for each query. Example publicly-available search engines include those provided by Microsoft Corporation, Google Inc., Yahoo! Inc., etc.
While search engines are quite powerful, they suffer from some flaws. First, search engines do not always identify the most relevant links early in the search results, forcing the user to spend time reviewing multiple results to find the information they are seeking. Additionally, search engines do not always identify the portion of a document most likely to satisfy the customer or requester, as they only identify, at best, the portion of the document in which the search words were found. This problem is exacerbated for larger documents, as a user may not know where to look in a very long document for the most relevant information. Additionally, search engines are often misled by the frequent appearance of keywords, such as when document developers attempt to mislead a search engine into giving a higher priority for a particular site or document by incorporating large numbers of keywords in the document in a process known as "keyword spamming". Keyword spamming often results in erroneous or misleading query results, making the search engine less desirable for the user. Improving the performance of search engines will likely increase the usage of that search engine and thus the revenue generated from it.
There is, therefore, a need for an effective system to improve the functionality of search engines, particularly when search engines are used to find information contained in portions of electronic documents. In particular, there is a need to find information relevant to a user contained in portions of electronic documents.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS
The problems identified above are in large part addressed by systems, methods, and media for awarding credits based on provided usage information. Embodiments receive an 5 indication of the usage of an electronic document by a user and aggregate the received usage indication received with usage indications relating to other users. Embodiments may then create document utilization information for the electronic document based on the aggregated usage indications 1° and award usage credit to the user based on the user's usage of the electronic document. Further embodiments transmit an indication of the awarded usage credit to the user and receive a request from the user to use the usage credits.
Another embodiment provides a machine-accessible 15 medium containing instructions effective, when executing in a data processing system, to cause the system to perform a series of operations for awarding credits based on provided usage information. Embodiments receive an indication of the usage of an electronic document by a user and aggregate the 20 received usage indication with usage indications relating to other users. Embodiments may then create document utilization information for the electronic document based on the aggregated usage indications and award usage credit to the user based on the user's usage of the electronic document. 25 Further embodiments transmit an indication of the awarded usage credit to the user and receive a request from the user to use the usage credits.
A further embodiment provides a data processing system 3Q that may include a document computer system and an aggregator server. The document computer system may include a usage tracking module for tracking a user's usage of an electronic document. The aggregator server may include an aggregator module and a usage credit module. The aggregator 35 module creates document utilization information based on received usage information from one or more users and the usage credit module may award usage credit to users based on their usage of the electronic document. The data processing system may also include a search engine server for generating search results in response to a search request, where the search engine server may award statistics credits based on received document utilization information.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
Other objects and advantages of the invention will become apparent upon reading the following detailed description and upon reference to the accompanying drawings in which, like references may indicate similar elements: 50
FIG. 1 depicts an environment for a system for collecting and disseminating electronic document usage information according to one embodiment;
FIG. 2 depicts one embodiment of an aggregator server of the document usage system of FIG. 1; 55
FIG. 3 depicts one embodiment of a search engine server of the document usage system of FIG. 1;
FIG. 4 depicts an example of a flow chart for determining electronic document usage and requesting a search according g0 to one embodiment;
FIG. 5 depicts an example of a flow chart for aggregating electronic document usage information according to one embodiment; and
FIG. 6 depicts an example of a flow chart for receiving 65 electronic document usage information and generating search results according to one embodiment.
The following is a detailed description of example embodiments of the invention depicted in the accompanying drawings. The example embodiments are in such detail as to clearly communicate the invention. However, the amount of detail offered is not intended to limit the anticipated variations of embodiments; on the contrary, the intention is to cover all modifications, equivalents, and alternatives falling within the spirit and scope of the present invention as defined by the appended claims. The detailed descriptions below are designed to make such embodiments obvious to a person of ordinary skill in the art.
Systems, methods and media for awarding credits based on provided usage information are disclosed. More particularly, hardware and/or software for collecting and disseminating usage information related to electronic documents and for awarding usage credits to users in exchange for providing usage information are disclosed. Embodiments include receiving an indication of the usage of an electronic document by a user and aggregating the received usage indication for the document with usage indications relating to other users. Embodiments may also include creating document utilization information for the electronic document based on the aggregated usage indications and awarding usage credit to the user based on the user's providing statistics on the usage of the electronic document. Further embodiments may include transmitting an indication of the awarded usage credit to the user and receiving a request to use the usage credits.
The disclosed embodiments encourage users to provide document usage information to document providers and encourage document providers to provide aggregated document utilization information to search engines by providing for credits in exchange for information. Incorporating document utilization information in search results improves the quality of search results provided to users by providing more meaningful and accurate search results. Improved quality of search results may increase the usage and revenue of a search site, as well as increase access to electronic documents for which document utilization information is available. Encouraging users to provide document usage information via credits results in an incentive for more users to provide information, making the document utilization information more accurate and valuable.
While specific embodiments will be described below with reference to particular configurations of hardware and/or software, those of skill in the art will realize that embodiments of the present invention may advantageously be implemented with other substantially equivalent hardware and/or software systems.
Turning now to the drawings, FIG. 1 depicts an environment for a system for collecting and disseminating electronic document usage information according to one embodiment. In the depicted embodiment, the document usage system 100 includes one or more document computer systems 102 in communication with a network 110. Each document computer system 102 may contain a usage tracking module 112 and a document reader 114. A user may view electronic documents using the document reader 114 while the usage tracking module 112 tracks information relating to the user's access of particular electronic documents. In the depicted embodiment, the document usage system 100 also includes one or more aggregator servers 104 in communication with the document computer systems 102 via network 110 for aggregating usage information gathered from users. Each aggregator server 104 may be in communication with one or more search engine servers 106 via network 120, while the