The Rant – Chopping Through the Bookmark List…

The Rant – Chopping Through the Bookmark List after the break…

The Rant – Chopping Through the Bookmark List…

I have a confession to make – I’m a wimp when it comes to modifying my computer in any way, shape or form. I used to be far bolder in my youth when it came to computers. New computer game or application? Installed. New programming language? Installed. De-frag the hard drive? Already there. New drivers? Done. Update this or that on the computer? Not a problem.

I don’t know what happened to me. I don’t know how I went from “Yeah, let’s do that” to “You know what? Let’s wait until tomorrow.” How did I get so cautious? I’ve only had a computer truly, absolutely quit on me once for a software-related reason and it wasn’t even the hard drive that went physically bad. Once… In over 30 years of using computers. Maybe I’m a lot more cautious now simply because computers have gotten so much more complex. There’s so many more ways that a computer can turn into an expensive paperweight then in the old days. Maybe if I reformatted hard drives and re-installed operating systems on a daily basis, I’d be far more confident with being bold in my activities in computer management. New graphics card? Sure, let me do that. Install more powerful RAM? Why not? Hand me those tools. New operating system? Phfft! I won’t even break a sweat over it!

So, whenever I start thinking of being bold in managing my computer, I compromise and settle on more mundane tasks.

I decided to weed through my bookmark list instead.

This leads me to another confession – I bookmark webpages far too often. I arrive at the Internet with the philosophy of, “If I even remotely like it for a single moment, I bookmark it.” You never know when you’ll want to come back to it. I’ve certainly felt the sting of when I’ve wanted to go back to something on the Internet but just couldn’t find it. That message board with the really interesting niche topic? Nowhere to be found. That cute little browser game in the middle of Net Nowhere? Gone forever. Interesting blog focusing on a mundane topic? Vanished without a trace. For all I know, all of those websites continue to exist merrily without incident but since I can’t remember where they are and my “Google-Fu” is weak, they may as well have been wiped off of the face of the Internet the moment I powered down my machine at the end of the night. Therefore, the threshold for bookmarking a webpage is remarkably low for me.

Yet there’s a downside for recording so many bookmarks – Even with careful categorization (which I rarely perform), the list becomes so unwieldy and unmanageable as to become a farce. The bookmark list becomes a veritable forest of hyperlinks (don’t giggle, that’s what they’re technically called, at least back to those of us in the Internet v0.1 era) so dense that scrolling down to the very bottom of that list becomes an epic journey that spans generations and causes great personal sacrifice.

I’ve attempted to tame my bookmark list in the past with mixed results. Chop 30 dead links here, delete 50 links I have no clue why I bothered to save there. I always become disinterested, though, about halfway through the task. There’s just so many links to go through. The amount of satisfaction increases until it outbalances the immense amount of work needed to actually finish the job. Not this time, though. This time, I’m going through all of the links. Every last single one of them. Links in folders, links not in folders… They all get looked at.

While I haven’t finished the job yet (I know), I thought I’d share some observations while I’ve been going through my own set of bookmarks:

  1. Websites are fleeting. Seriously… Websites make fly-by-night operations look like storied institutions. How many bookmarks simply point to places that just don’t exist anymore? If the Internet went through all of it’s links and weeded out the dead ones, there’d probably be only 15% of those links left. The Internet of four years ago may as well be an Internet from forty years ago.
  2. Some bookmarks are really useful for a very specific purpose. I’ve noticed a few bookmarks that accomplish a very specific goal and nothing else. A picture that reveals how to put a series of chess pieces back into the box without smashing your head into the wall in dire frustration because the final two pieces won’t fit. A message board topic with very specific instructions on how to set up a particular application. I’ve been amazed at what I’ve found while chopping through the list.
  3. Never bookmark a Google cached webpage. I can’t write how many Google caches no longer exist. Have I missed something valuable? Probably not but it’s still unnerving. I don’t know why I don’t bookmark the actual page and settle on the Google cache instead.
  4. A lot of bookmarks have outlived their usefulness. Weeding out your bookmarks is like cleaning out a closet or a dresser drawer. There’s the sweater vest you used to wear until the 21st century rolled around. There’s a pair of socks with holes in it. There’s a belt you used to wear with your dress slacks. A tie that was given to you. A winter coat clearly enjoying it’s retirement and in no condition to return to active service. It’s no different with booklinks – Hey, there’s the series of bookmarks on pruning trees back when I was doing that about 4 years ago. There’s the bookmarks on that real-time strategy game I was infatuated with for a week about three years ago. Here’s a bookmark that I visited daily two presidential election cycles ago.
  5. Some bookmarks you should visit more often. Like the bird or fish that people think became extinct but is spotted decades later by natives of the area, some bookmarks are actually quite good and has me wondering why I bothered to stop browsing them so many years ago.

At least for me, weeding through my bookmark list is almost akin to opening up a time capsule – Hey, here’s a pocket calculator that cost $80 dollars back in the day. Here’s a pair of movie tickets. Look, a newspaper from 15 years ago. Wow, were those hair styles really in fashion back then? There’s something slightly nostalgic about finally visiting some of these websites again and noticing how browsing patterns have shifted over the years. It makes me wonder which sites I browse daily today I’ll still be visiting in five years.

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