Browser Bookmarks

Pink bookmark against yellow background

One of the things I regret is not saving all of my chats and email from college. I remember learning how to download email at some point and kept copies of some of it on floppy disks. My many hours (days, weeks) on IRC was altogether lost. It was such a blow to lose that part of my life like it was nothing, when I knew and know it would have been so simple to make a copy.

It was that longing for the nostalgia that I’ve gotten better (and worse) at accumulating digital cruft. We used chat a lot in my previous job; not sure I have the time for it, but yes, I have all of those archived. And settling in on a new laptop, I am staring at something that needs my attention: my Safari bookmarks.

Some of these bookmarks likely pre-date Safari on Macintosh. The worst is my messy “bookmarks bar” which Apple now calls “Favorites” versus other bookmarks which don’t appear on the bar and are simply “bookmarks.” One of the most prodigious folders is “Weblogs.” The first two links I still use and have been visiting for at least what? eighteen? twenty years? I am not sure when daringfireball started but it’s held the prestigious #1 spot for a long time. #2 I know was born in the late 1990s when I discovered it as one of the prototypical blogs, Both the men who run those sites are professional bloggers. Many of the others, at least at the top, have gone into the ether. I have no real desire to clean that list, it’s just too long, and the same goes for so many other folders.

It’s easy to get rid the folders without any type of warning from Safari. Go into the bookmarks manager and just select and tap “delete” and it’s gone. Just like that. Years and years of browsing fun all gone in the matter of a keystroke. It was my first sign that I don’t think anyone making browsers (I use a lot of Chrome too) cares about bookmarks/favorites. Trying to move them around, especially in a long list, was tedious; getting the browser window to “scroll” while holding onto 5 bookmarks for dear life was a special challenge.

Going through so many old sites that I remember—especially those now gone—is somewhat depressing. In my mind websites were like physical properties on a street you could get to without too much trouble. Of course Murphy’s and Gimbals and Ukrop’s (it’s late and I’m thinking of stores long gone) are going to be there, right? And when they’re not? It’s like you woke up from a coma and everything you knew about Main Street has gone away and been replaced.

Tonight I renewed my domain names for another five years. How do people just let them go defunct? I’d rather go to your blog and see you hadn’t written since 2016 than find it’s all just gone and it was like you never existed.

I think the biggest flaw in Tim Berners-Lee’s design for the web was the non-permanance of the whole thing. I mean we really aren’t capturing all of the world’s knowledge via are we? That resource is interesting but it’s slow and who says it won’t disappear in a decade?

Saving web links seems almost quaint now. Is it just passé to add bookmarks anymore? Or does everyone just go to social media for a fix of something new, and end up Googling the rest?

Yes, I may be old. But I grew up pre-web and remember it’s emergence in my life very clearly. I had BBS accounts and an email address that only a few people I knew could use to send me electronic mail as early as 1990 or 1991 via the Cleveland Free-net. Imagine it, if you would, walking into a computer lab in college and watching all those college students glued to the PCs in the lab, all running Mosaic. The new addiction had hit strong.

Despite Yahoo and others promising to show us the entire web, we also went out and bought yellow-page style books of weblinks. Yes, you could look up a hobby and find a website to go along with it. Then you realized referring to this book each time was lame. You bookmarked that stuff.

Making our own library of curated sites seemed the most natural thing to do, like starting your own home library. Except did anyone expect us to hold onto those links for nearly twenty years?

And why, oh why, Apple? I found some new weblogs and when I added them to the weblogs folder it puts them at the bottom (where they belong, in chronological adding order) but now on my phone and iPad they’re stuck where? At the top?

I just may need to give up and get rid of the whole lot, one pregnant folder at a time.

Categorized as essays