Bookmarks with referrers

Thursday 11 September 2003

Recently, I noticed two mentions of things I had linked to, and each mention said something like “I forget where I found this”. One was on, the other in a comment in Simon Willison’s blog. I suspect that the authors had found them here.

Considering the web is fundamentally about links, and that surfing constantly takes us far afield, why don’t our bookmarks help us more with this problem? Typically a bookmark is simply a URL and a title. Why can’t a bookmark also include the chain of referrers (the history stack) that led up to it? Wouldn’t that be valuable contextual information?

Someday when I’m independently wealthy and can spend my days in a smoking jacket writing the software I want to use, I’ll write a bookmark manager that remembers not just the bookmarks but where they came from.

Or maybe the can help out...

» 5 reactions


Mark Eichin 11:23 PM on 11 Sep 2003

This is what I finally found StickyBrain useful for. (I'd started, when I switched to MacOSX, applescripting a button that grabbed the URL, a page image, and the html and text forms of the page, but stickybrain has a cleaner mode, and grabs the selection + url.) So instead of "merely" bookmarking, I grab a paragraph or whole article, and it gets saved with the referencing url; it has categories and basic search.

It uses the contextual (ctl-click) menu, which is very close to being directly integrated with the browser but not all the way there. The real key for me is being able to better credit quotes or ideas...

sil 3:36 AM on 12 Sep 2003

Oops. Sorry, Ned.
Having done a bit of investigation, I conclude that this is because I actually read the thing on your site, rather than in my agregator; for some reason I'm not subscribed to your feed. (Well, I wasn't; I am now.) The reason I couldn't remember where it came from wasn't that I bookmarked the link -- I very rarely do that -- but that I open links in a new tab, and then if, later, I close the source page (yours, in this case) I don't have a Back button to get back to where I found the link.
What I should have done, of course, was javascript:alert(document.referrer) in the address bar, which would have told me, but it never crossed my mind. My fault. I shall try and do better.

caiuschen 3:37 AM on 12 Sep 2003

Heh... yes, I found that here. I try to keep track of where I find things, but sometimes I'm in a hurry and forget. I actually scanned through the blogs where I thought it was likely but your posting frequency was more than I estimated, so I hadn't checked back far enough. Bookmarks that keep track of the link trail would be very cool.

Ned Batchelder 7:06 AM on 12 Sep 2003

No apologies are necessary. It just seems to me that we all struggle with maintaining context in our headlong rush through cyberspace (what an outdated word: so 20th century!), and that improved tools could help.

kaeng 2:00 AM on 14 Sep 2003

Well, I still know how I found this site. I was searching for the famous Heinlein quote, because I wanted to know when it was written. I needed this information for another comment in another blog. Hooray for the microcosm of blogging.

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