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Dear Browser, I Wish...

Dear Browser, I wish you could help me keep track of my browsing in a better way. What do I mean? Well, lately I’m just finding quite some opened windows/tabs and had no idea where they come from or why I opened them. How does this happen? The usual process: in the morning I open all the feeds that have new posts, right click - open in new tab on those that seem interesting, quickly read through them, click on a few links, and then if I’m still too sleepy I grab a cup of coffee that of course wakes me a bit, so I decide to minimize all opened browser windows and start doing something else - writing, researching, reading…. And an hour (or even more) later I remember those minimized windows and realize I still have some posts to read. Cool! I read the most interesting posts more carefully, and then… hm… why do I have this window opened? It was in one of the posts I read… but which one? The one I just closed? Hm… Yep. You can see my point. And this is really getting irritating. I know, I know, it’s all my fault, I should try to do one task at a time etc. etc. etc.

But anyhow! I do think that our dear browsers could help us a bit in such situations. How? Well, I’d give anything (well, not my Mac ;) ) to be able to click on something that says “How did I get here?” and that could show me the link I clicked to get to the site I’m viewing right now. And I’m not really picky - put it in any menu you want, make it available with a right click, add a toolbar… anything! But I don’t want it as a separate program and I’m too lazy to re-open and search through my browser’s history. I just think that this would be a really useful browser feature for people that get lost between links like I sometimes do and that want that option available without having to go a certain site or turn on anything :) It would just be there, available when we need it. Some sort of log, but presented in a user friendly way with clear connections between sites.

And you know what else would be really cool? If we had an easy, simple way to share the “How did I get here?” info. Why? Well, I think it could be used in education. Just imagine this situation: you give your students a task to do Internet research on Christmas trees. Your students of course go to a search engine of their choice, type in the keyword they think are the most appropriate, and then click on the search results they think are the most relevant. Of course, you can make your students write a written report on how they performed their search, but wouldn’t it be great if there was a simple (browser integrated) way to share and compare the browsing activity? And of course be able to produce readable and easy to understand report (they could even be visual, in form of sideshows for example).

Of course there is also a commercial application of this function - I think many companies would be interested in seeing how we browse and especially how we get (or fail to get) to their sites. Here of course I think it should be up-to the users to decide if (and for how much ;) ) they want to share this info.

So, this is my biggest feature wish for my dear browser. What features do you wish your browser would bring you in the next version? :)

Originally published at http://ialja.blogspot.com/2006/12/dear-browser-i-wish.html