What I’m Missing

Wikipedia really lacks user interface.  I’m NOT talking about making it more pretty or something.  I like it’s subdued look that emphasizes the information.  I mean, for instance, the fact that it doesn’t have a memory of what I have viewed.  It doesn’t give an interface into my wikipedia forays.  But what I really want is something that overlays wikipedia and gives an interface that helps me drill down into specific areas while keeping track of the purposes of my research.

This context is not negligible.  I want an interface that allows me to actively collect information.  Something solid that I don’t feel is going to disappear just because I lose my computer.  Something that frames the knowledge I have explored and anchors it.  Finally, something that can almost be “held” in digitalia.  Probably will be able to be held one day.  And also, one day I imagine it not limiting itself to wikipedia.

I might even start calling it a “web browser”.  It’d be interesting if a popular browser maker actually went out of their way to offer something substantial in the way of “tabbed browsing” and “history”.  I mean, I’m looking at about 31 tabs on my browser:

my tabs

Chrome is nice enough whereby usually, when I shut down my computer and restart it, I can open my last tabs (inexplicably, sometimes, I cannot [when an update is installed?]).  I could laboriously search through my flat history to get lists of websites that match certain slices of interest… but I want more.  I want to create a layout, like windows 8 metro, but much more fluidly and variable.  I want to open tabs in categories.  Of course, it would be easy to get this wrong and make it cumbersome enough to be unused.

How can you beat “Ctrl-t” and “Ctrl-click”?  Why would anyone consent to another layer between them and their content?  Inherit from the parent.

But that’s only part of the problem, because often one thread contains what I would consider to be content belonging to a separate thread of interest, or maybe it belongs to both?

One thing I like about Chrome that is seemingly incompatible with the direction of my thoughts is the fact that it almost maximizes screen real-estate.  I know they’re talking about (or were, once) getting rid of the address bar (autohiding), but rather than simply, solely giving that space to the web pages, I would consider giving the option of allowing two rows of tabs.  And I’d let either users of one or two rows of tabs to group their tabs into rectangles (single story for the single rowers).  And tabs can easily be dragged back and forth.  They can scroll when there are too many tabs to reasonably view.  Each “category” can be viewed as a whole webpage, so that even within a category, categories can be created and navigated.

The address bar should be easily summonable from any tab header or by keystroke (trusty old “Alt-d” works for me).

That’s a good start anyway.  I would like to name these “categories” and be able to manage my history “by category”.  Perhaps even accessible by a dropdown that can be “dropped down” by interacting with the tab-containing rectangle in some undetermined but exquisitely natural way (like an arrow pointing downward that expands into an overlay tab of “category” related activities [such as history]).

I can imagine collecting this information for years.  But it is my information.  Not Google’s or someone else’s.

And that’s why the title of this blog has changed from “What Wikipedia’s Missing” to “What Chrome’s Missing” to “What I’m Missing”.  It’s not that I have a problem sharing the record of my noetic wandering.  It’s that I want to be able to innovate against my own information.  I don’t want to wait for “Wikipedia” or “Chrome” to update their interfaces.  What I really want is to manage my own information.  Become my own data miner.  It’s almost possible to write a web browser and I guess that is what Mozilla is working on.  So it seems I’ll have what I’m missing soon enough.  Gonna hold out for a Firefone.

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