Sunday, November 20, 2005


is tabbed browsing changing the structure of content?

Tabbed browsing has been hailed as a revolution, though Ben Goodger at Firefox cites Microsoft research that says having lots of windows open -- a problem tabs is meant to solve -- is not that big a problem for most users. I'll admit I have been slow to understand why users need multiple Webpages open at once, though I'm starting to see more possibilities. Without doing testing myself (probably only browser developers would commission such research), I see the following possibilities for ordinary users:

The last possibility, new tab opened when clicking on an embedded link, breaks a paradigm for web content. Web content developers have been told not to use embedded links within the body of an article, because users will leave the site and probably never return. Associated links are supposed to be placed on the side, or at the bottom of an article, to avoid the possibility of users being sucked away.

Among sites I routinely read, I notice that the New York Times now has embedded links within the body of articles, whereas previously they put links at the end of articles. I don't know if this change in practice is because of the rise of tabbed browsing, or because the Times is trying to sell their premium service, and tempting people at every opportunity.

How about saving all the tabs as bookmarks in one folder? and then coming back where you left. You can never do that with IE! Now, especially with reading blogs - one can easily get lost if one cannot put the new pages to context within the same window!
You are kind of confining yourself to the few people who have broadband. There are plenty of people on the internet who are surfing through a dial up connection. In that scenario, it is necessary to keep oneself busy, so one clicks for the next photograph on that online album, and wants hotmail to load the next email on the side.
Thanks for the comments.

It is interesting that both of you mention content made by individuals rather than by professional content creators like newspapers. Such folk creations may be less concerned about the formalities of structure, and willing to let natural communication patterns define needs.

Interesting twist: folders are basically a tool in search of a solution. To borrow Everett Rogers' framework, people exploring new tools are generally technology explorers, rather than technology trailers (such as people lacking broadband.)
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