Highlight Heatmaps

Stories’ Points of Interest

Andrew Courter
Jan 30, 2018 · 3 min read

The highlight heatmap — Highly’s core artifact—is a visualization of where highlights exist within a story, and by extension, what’s important.

Like any good map, it gives you useful information at a glance. Seeing highlights’ locations, quantity and density along the length of the story helps you quickly discern:

Where am I, and what’s good here?

The Elements of a Highlight (Heat) Map

Maps are particularly useful when you encounter highlights excerpted from their original context, like in a Tweet, a Slack post or in the Highly newspaper.

Whether reading, listening or watching, we measure the size of a story in time. The length of the line represents a story’s reading time, and the time itself appears as a label.

Highlights appear along the length of the story, sized according to the lengths of the highlights themselves. As you’re highlighting, you’ll see your highlights appear on the map.

When you encounter others’ highlights, the map gives you a quick read about what they found interesting and why they’re sharing. One highlight? Most likely the money quote. Many highlights distributed over the story? Sounds like a summary.

Map. Maps. Heatmap.

The map gets its superpower when it superimposes people’s highlights atop one another. The bright areas mark the spans in the story that the most people highlighted. These are the story’s high points. They’re often the best place to start.

You’ll see heatmaps wherever we use multiple users’ highlights to choose which idea to surface: in Highlights Here (Highly shows you the top highlights as you browse the web), as the Highly Slackbot chimes in, in the Your Week on Highly email, among others.

Today’s heatmaps are powered by our community’s Public highlights, but they can be generated from any set. Imagine starting with a heatmap of friends’, experts’, or teammates’ highlights. Soon.

Secret, Unlisted and Teammates Only highlights, available to Crowd Control subscribers, are never included.

Sometimes you’re reading somebody’s highlights, and you want to make some of your own. Violá! The map adapts to show both sets of highlights. (They’re both displayed in the story, too.)

The map shows where you and your highlights are.


Highlight heatmaps come with context-specific interactivity.

When you’re reading, the map indicates your location as well as the location of the highlights in the story. It’s not your father’s scrollbar.

In the browser extensions, clicking a highlight in the map jumps you there in the story. (Using the J and K keys flies you through them in order, too.)

On the Share screens, you can choose which highlight to include in your Tweet or Post by hovering highlights on the map (web) or swiping the text (iOS).

When Highlights Here appear as you’re browsing the web, you can hover your cursor over the map to explore the highlights in the story.

Go ahead and explore the internet. Highly will bring the map.


Highly is the Internet’s Highlight Layer

Highlight darn near anything, share the meaty parts instead of timesucking links, and see your peoples’ highlights as you surf the web.

At home, start each day with your Highly newspaper: the important ideas in the stories your people are reading.

At work, it’s unprofessional to share a story without highlighting it. Save your team time, spark productive convos, and maximize shared knowledge with Highly for Teams — in Slack, too.


Happy Highlighting

Building Highly, the Internet’s Highlight Layer • The…

Thanks to Eric Wuebben

Andrew Courter

Written by

Soccer dad. Pro aesthete. Founder @HighlyTM, the internet’s highlight layer. Draft.

Happy Highlighting

Building Highly, the Internet’s Highlight Layer • The Highly Team Is Now Part of Twitter

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