Tab Hoarding

In a post-n-thread over at Ace of Spades HQ about computer time-sucks, Ace complains of something that afflicts me too. He calls it “tab hoarding“. It’s the result of skittering about the Web reading items that contain links, opening the links for a moment in a new tab, and going back to what you were reading before or on to something else. (It can also happen when something you read prompts you to go look something up, which leads to one or more new open tabs, which in turn suggest other avenues of inquiry…)

You don’t want to close the tabs, because you know there’s interesting stuff in there that you definitely want to load into your brain, and you tell yourself you’re sure to come back to them soon. And you don’t want to bookmark them, because you already have so many thousands of random bookmarks that finding anything in them is really not much different from poking around on the Internet itself, and because you will absolutely never remember to go back to them once they are off your screen.

So they sit there. In the course of a couple of hours online I can pile up several dozen, and if the computer gets rebooted, or the browser closed, I feel a sharp pang of loss, because I know that I will never finish reading about the Keystone LB-5 biplane or saltwater razor clams, and because I know also that the subject will soon come up in some contentious online discussion, thereby finding me at an avoidable disadvantage. Worse than that, most of the time I can’t even remember what all those tabs even were; all that is left is the certainty that they were of great, if unspecified, value, and are now lost.

I think all of this might indicate that I have some sort of problem.

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19 Comments

  1. Kevin Kim says

    Several dozen tabs??? Are you nuts? At most, I have perhaps eight or ten tabs open at any given moment. Some tabs are always open:

    1. BigHominid’s Hairy Chasms

    2. Time, Effort, Focus

    3. Blogger (edit window)

    4. Gmail Inbox

    5. SiteMeter

    6. Twitter

    At some point throughout the day, I’ll also have tabs for Instapundit, Drudge, and one or two news/science articles that I’ve found through these sources. Other tabs are devoted to blogs I read regularly: yours, my buddy Mike’s (Naked Villainy), my buddy Charles’s (Liminality), my friend Steve Honeywell’s (1001 Plus), etc. Never more than ten tabs open at a time, if for no other reason than the fact that too many tabs means I can’t read the tab titles anymore.

    Posted September 10, 2012 at 10:11 pm | Permalink
  2. Malcolm says

    Yeah, when I can’t read ’em any more that’s a problem. At that point I’ll go back over them and close a few.

    Or open a new browser.

    Posted September 10, 2012 at 10:14 pm | Permalink
  3. Malcolm says

    This is bad, right? I don’t think I ever had this problem when I was growing up.

    Posted September 10, 2012 at 10:16 pm | Permalink
  4. Malcolm says

    It makes me wish I’d listened to what my mother always told me…

    Posted September 10, 2012 at 10:17 pm | Permalink
  5. Kevin Kim says

    Too many tabs = hairy palms and blindness.

    Posted September 10, 2012 at 11:09 pm | Permalink
  6. the one eyed man says

    “What did your mother always tell you?”

    “I don’t know. I wasn’t listening.”

    Posted September 11, 2012 at 5:23 am | Permalink
  7. the one eyed man says

    Too many Tabs = not enough Frescas.

    Posted September 11, 2012 at 5:27 am | Permalink
  8. JK says

    Don’t know this’d work for everyone but the lead folder name of my dozen folder favorites is titled, “Zap.”

    (A new folder titled “Zap” is created each morning when I boot – ’cause the one from yesterday was… well zapped just prior to shutdown.)

    I keep a roll of masking tape and a Sharpie next to the box of .40s which is always alongside and to the left of my monitor. When I create my “Zap” folder, I click Favorites then when the drop-down opens, I reach for the tape, tear off a a one-inch piece – place the tape back on my ammo then reach for the Sharpie. I print a single word on the length of tape then I cover the Zap folder beneath Favorites with the piece of tape I just printed on, to my monitor that day’s morning.

    This accomplishes not just one single thing for me – rather two. When it’s that time of day to shut down, one last time I click Favorites, pull the piece of tape which invariably sticks to my fingers off the monitor, zap the Zap folder – look for the word printed on the piece of tape sticking to my fingers and thereby while waiting for the entries to delete, I remember I’m next to take 20 milligrams of Valium.

    Think I saw this routine on “Hints From Heloise” but I zapped Heloise.

    Posted September 11, 2012 at 10:57 am | Permalink
  9. I dunno, JK; your comments intrigue me.

    They usually start out comprehensible (to me, at least). Then they suddenly veer in a yellow-brick-road-like direction that’s orthogonal to Big Al’s ordinary spacetime.

    As I attempt to follow them, I begin to feel a bit queasy, as if I had entered a cosmic wormhole …

    It’s a heady experience, sort of like I imagine dropping acid feels like (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

    Posted September 11, 2012 at 11:37 am | Permalink
  10. JK says

    All ya gotta do Henry is, remember where your ammo is. Pistol should be strapped to your chest.

    Only then head for the parking garage for your commute.

    Posted September 11, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Permalink
  11. Pistol; ammo; spectacles; testicles; watch; wallet; American Express.

    I’m good to go.

    Posted September 11, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Permalink
  12. JK says

    And proper tire inflation Henry.

    Posted September 11, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Permalink
  13. Dom says

    You always have to consume exactly the same amount of alcohol reading JK’s comments as he consumed writing them.

    Greatest improvement in a browser UI: The colored tab group, used in both IE and Safari.

    The worst “improvement”: The universal url/search bar used in Safari and Chrome.

    Posted September 11, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Permalink
  14. “The worst “improvement”: The universal url/search bar used in Safari and Chrome.”

    I don’t agree, Dom. I really like it.

    But, of course, it’s a religious issue, like PC vs. Mac.

    Posted September 11, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Permalink
  15. JK says

    Sorry Dom – apparently you didn’t get the memo.

    My VA annual is scheduled for October 3rd. Eight weeks prior, due to my having need for my liver enzymes to show up in the “acceptable range” I have to severely cut back on my alcohol consumption (Zocor).

    Six weeks prior – total abstinence.

    But you’ll be fine reinstituting upping your methodological alcohol consumption/translation oh… “about” 5 or so the evening of October 3rd. (I’m in the Central timezone.) Appointment’s at 11 a.m., my VA med facility is located in a wet county – I should be drunkish sometime ’round 3 p.m. Snockered only after my one hour’s drive home.

    Posted September 11, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Permalink
  16. Jean says

    I think Noosfeer can help you with this situation. I love it and since I’ve been using it, I actually feel more productive and more creative.

    Posted January 16, 2015 at 12:23 pm | Permalink
  17. Sarah says

    Just came across this and reposting since I was confronted by my ADHD tab collection. Made me laugh that there are others out there with the same affliction.

    Posted January 21, 2015 at 12:01 pm | Permalink
  18. Malcolm says

    Oh yes, Sarah, there are. And things haven’t got any better: sixteen open as I write.

    Posted January 21, 2015 at 1:53 pm | Permalink
  19. Malcolm says

    Jean, I will have a look. Thanks.

    Posted January 21, 2015 at 1:54 pm | Permalink