A few days ago, I spent a few minutes recovering an URL from my browser history. I didn’t know what I was looking for well enough to just filter the entries, but I was sure I’d recognize it as soon as I saw it. However, I had had that tab open (and idle) for quite some time, even if I had only recently closed it, so the log entry was way farther down the list than I expected. In other words, in my mind’s recollection of my browser usage, reading that site was recent activity; but for the software, it was old news.

Since the introduction of tabs in web browsers, our browsing history stopped being linear. Tabs allow us to branch out of our current set of visited site logs, introducing a new, parallel timeline. However, history features in current web browsers still display activity linearly and, as a result, do not reflect our actual usage experience. Sites we were reading moments ago can be drowned under tons of unrelated history entries if we have a few overactive tabs.

It would be nice to see parallel timelines accurately represented in the way we display browser history. The linear entry-list is usually good enough to find stuff (since you can usually filter it down to a few items), but nowhere near accurate when it comes to visually representing our recent usage of the program.

So, how about…

Bare-bones mock design for browser history

I think this is quite an interesting problem, if not that problematic. We could be getting much more out of browser history. You are more than welcome to share your ideas in the comments!