How Tabbed Browsing Changed the Way I Think


I have a running joke with @amyyen and the ASL crew about how I think in tabbed browsing. At any given time, I have at least 10 tabs open on my computer (in addition to several programs… my computer is hating me for this). This habit of opening so many programs and sites at once on my computer and bouncing back and forth between tabs has affected how I think offline. This is a *normal* conversation with Amy:

Amy: Amanda, did you check out that Stars game last night?

Amanda: No, I was watching The Office and [NEW TAB] did you see that post on TC? I can’t believe that [NEW TAB] lol Amy you know I don’t watch sports. Anyway, I think that we should check out OM this weekend. Does that work for [NEW TAB] Although I guess I did do a bracket with @meaganfish last year.

This habit translates to my crazy work and school habits as a college student (I have quite a few jobs running at once in addition to my studies and work in student groups on campus). Of course it’s become hard to sit in a lecture class, movie, meeting or presentation that’s not interactive and engaging. My classmates and I have grown up with a cell in one hand, an iPod in another, a computer in front of us with a bunch of tabs open and programs running; we’re texting, friending, tweeting, calling, IMing… it’s a little frantic and crazy, but it’s become habit and anything more static and linear feels very strange.

-Amanda Mooney


11 Responses to “How Tabbed Browsing Changed the Way I Think”

  1. This is so much more funny live, y’all [NEW TAB] when are we meeting tonight?? [NEW TAB] Did you see The Office last night? [NEW TAB] MUCH funnier live. We should do a video.

  2. This is funny. I’m totally with you on this; in fact I take it one step further and think in key strokes: {alt} {tab} , {ctrl+v}, etc etc.

  3. This is profoundly true.

    My open tabs are often a to-do list. I can’t tell you how much I wish I had a “how did I get here?” plugin for when I come across something open in my tabs out of context. Back just doesn’t always cut it.

    More than that my work and consulting list is highly tabbed too, with many really different, and disparate, types of business activities moving in parallel: client work, interviews, requests, pipeline, new project ideas, reading and links to process (read, tweet, blog, ignore), proposals, and speaking opportunities, to name a few. Not to mention, Twittering. Phew.

    Laura Nelson re: keystrokes YES! And therefore I’m toast when I jump from Mac back to PC.

  4. This sounds like me – I’m very similar to Laura too. I even do this with my house work ..

    I don’t want to use the multi-tasking word, I prefer rapid attention shifting. There’s a whole lot of research about this – and how impacts your brain and thinking ..

  5. @laura @beth I love “rapid attention shifting.” And it’s funny we (or I at least) have all of these tabs running, finally go to sleep at the end of the day and then wake up, flip open my computer and aptly select the “restore session” option Mozilla gives me so all of my tabs from the night before fly open again.

  6. 6 sarahhutton

    Amanda-tabbed browsing makes my life WAY easier and playing on the internet way more fun! Great post!

  7. Amanda – I think it might be better called, tabbed living! Online I’ll often open one tab and work in another while letting the other load, switch over to tab 2 while tab 1 submits and opens the next page.

    In life, it’s the same. I start a project then switch back to a primary function while project gets to a critical point and move back. I think our generation is learning this lesson in a HUGE way – just look at all of our activities compared to those of our peer group back 20 years.

    Awesome post!

  8. Hey! I wanted to add your feed to google reader but it took me like 10 minutes to find the rss link…
    Just giving you a heads up that you might want to look into placing a link to your feed in the sidebar or something :)

    (If it’s already there, excuse my blindness, LOL)

  9. @Kevin Good point! Should be up now. Thanks for the heads up. :)

  10. that’s exactly my way of working, too. I’m also doing tabbed emailing. the Opera email client allows you to open dozens of email drafts as tabs, and I use these as my to-do-list. I’m dependent on this by now: Whenever my computer crashes and the drafts are lost, I’m completely disoriented ;)
    As far as I know, Opera email is the only email program that allows tabbed emailing. The trade-off: I can’t compose HTML emails, that’s why my emails all looks so shitty…

  11. Amanda – you’ve described me perfectly! I absolutely love this post because I think in Twitter-speak and act in tabbed browsing mode. I freak out at the end of the day because I ALWAYS have so many tabs open. If they’re not there in front of me, they’re gone forever, so I force myself to work until I deal with all of them. I think if I started using “restore session” my computer would look like my filing system, insane and out of control :-) Like Beth, I do other things in “tabs” as well, I start cleaning the bathroom, then move on to dishes, then remember the bathroom, then start vac., etc. Thanks for a great post – I teach a technology course and I preach tabbed browsing all the time :-)

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