Tabs on browsers seem to be the norm these days. Looks to be a very useful feature, till you look closely. I think tabs have caused a major change in how we do things, and not all these changes are positive.
Very very long ago, there were browsers that allowed you to view just a single page. If you wanted to view a different page, you navigated away from the current page. Things had a logical start and end, you finished what you were doing and then moved on to something else. There was a lot of patience involved due to Dial-up modem speeds too.
Then, not so long ago, there came a feature for launching multiple browser windows to do concurrent things. That allowed you to do more, but subconsciously, you were wary of launching too many windows. Websites that launched popup windows were seen with contempt. It cluttered your desktop, slowed things down & you were still constrained by the bandwidth available. You could start a couple of things together and get them done, but the number of things/windows were still manageable to keep track of.
Then came Tabs. Like one of the English meaning of the word Tab (a running account for items or services rendered), it allows you to open multiple working windows within a window and continue a "flow of actions" on each. With more bandwidth and less desktop clutter, it provided an easy way of doing concurrent things. You could even have multiple windows and multiple tabs on each. Browsers got the capability to "remember" the windows & tabs if was terminated abnormally, and Operating Systems already had a Standby feature where you didn't have to close application and shutdown the computer. With this convenience, it became effortless to start new things, so one didn't have to give it much thought. But the time taken to complete those series of steps became longer. A lot of times, tabs remained open for days & weeks on end, waiting for a reading or action ... some sort of logical end. The user, on the other hand, got a sense of progress, when they opened a tab for something, thinking they will get to it. With no limit of the number of tabs and windows, the user is limited by the multi-tasking capability of his/her mind. Realistically, tabs cause a 100 open things, with no pressure to get them to logical closure. It's the perfect tool to fuel procrastination. Unless Tabs are used with self-discipline, I think they hamper productivity, not aid it. Just some Food for Thought!
Would love to hear other people's thoughts on Tabs, please do comment if you're reading this. How's your experience been? Do you often have 100 open tabs? How do you deal with it?
[Tip:] I find it useful to go over my open Windows & Tabs at the end of the week, if not daily (ideal). The act of clearing your tabs, closing the browser, and shutting down the machine helps close the loop on things, and keep a check on the low-effort tasks that you might be carrying for no reason.
Labels: browsers, productivity, tabs