Simon Willison’s Weblog

On blogging technique and better tabbed browsing

I’m addicted to tabs. Several times a day, I scan down my blogroll looking for blogs that have updated since I last checked, then middle click each one to open it up in a new tab in the background. I then work my way through each one, reading the earlier ones while the later ones are still loading (tabbed browsing makes being stuck on a modem a lot less painful). If I see anything interesting linked to from a blog entry I’m reading, I’ll middle click that as well. Within a few short minutes I’ll have so many tabs open I’ll be running out of space in my tab bar.

Often I’ll leave anything even remotely interesting open all day, but if I’m in the mood to reduce the clutter I’ll load up Notepad and start pasting URLs of interesting pages in to a document there as I close each tab in turn. These pasted URLs later form the basis of blog entries, which I always write in Notepad for fear of losing them to browser crashes. Eventually, I’ll either write up an entry and transfer it to my blog, or delete the URL from consideration. If I’m really behind, I’ll blog a whole bunch of links at once in a big list.

This technique works pretty well for me, except for one thing. Because I’m constantly opening links in new tabs, the back button in my browser no longer returns me to the page that I found the link on. I open dozens of links during a day and often leave them open for hours (if not days) before blogging them, during which time I frequently completely forget which blog I first saw the link on. For interesting items that aren’t being blogged in dozens of places at once I like to provide a “finders fee” by linking back to the person on who’s blog I saw the item, but I am often unable to do that due to the loss of the back button.

Thank goodness then for Jesse Ruderman’s "go to referrer" bookmarklet, which I just found while exploring his Miscellaneous category. It sends you back to the page you came from, even for new windows or tabs in which the back button has stopped functioning. My biggest problem with tabbed browsing is a problem no more.

This is On blogging technique and better tabbed browsing by Simon Willison, posted on 13th August 2003.

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Previously hosted at http://simon.incutio.com/archive/2003/08/13/bloggingTechnique