A Blockbuster Firefox, Part 2 - Your Brain On The Web

By Erik Vold

This is part two for A Blockbuster Firefox.

I’ve been thinking about Firefox as a user agent instead of a viewport. If the parts of the web that I have visited are part of my knowledge, then Firefox is my brain on the web. I will use my history, bookmarks, and search tools which Firefox provides to store that knowledge sometimes, in otherwords I’ll use a database which Firefox provides me access to, or other times I may just store the information in the biomass in my skull and access it with my brain.

If we think about Firefox as a cognitive extension then it should be more clear where work can be done.

Retrieval

One very common use case for a browser is fact checking, and the common way to do this is to Google it. I would argue that this is not the most efficient way.

Ubiquity is a good example of an add-on that worked on this issue, Search Tabs was another.

Recall

Recalling information is another use case for browsers, this is why the history and bookmark features exist, but progress has died off since then, and those two assets are not being used to their full potential.

Tab Groups and Recall Monkey were good examples of add-ons that tackled this issue. These days I’m starting to think fewer tabs is better, so tab organization is not quite as useful as just getting to the page that I want to go to, if I can do that efficiently without tabs, then I only need one tab, or maybe two tabs.

Refinement

When I am researching something I start with a search, then I have distractions, later I return to this search by re-searching. Why should both of these searches be equal? At the moment I have to use a search engine only, what if I could search multiple search engines and my history with Firefox? purge some results and highlight the ones that I’ve seen and thought were good results for that search?

I don’t think I’ve seen any good example of this, Google had something like this at one point, but I think the searches should be doable offline and privately too, that should make researching a better experience anyhow.

I plan to work on this during the upcoming months in my spare time.

Routine

There are many routines that I wish to establish and maintain on the web that basiclly come down to checking a page for updates, or making updates to a page.

Feedly is a good example of this done for blog updates, but this could be done better by the browser.

Live bookmarks are a good start.

Analysis

It is important to know thyself.

about:me, about:profile, and Lightbeam are all good examples here, but what if this information was used somehow for good? perhaps to suggest new pages. Somthing like Predictive Newtab.

Making Connections

If I’ve visited a number of blog posts that link to some MDN page, and perhaps I never noticed the link, or didn’t have a chance to visit it yet. There is a good chance that I want to read that MDN page and just don’t know it, this would be a good opportunity for Firefox to suggest it to me, and help me establish that connection.