I’ve been trying out the beta for Firefox 4, recently and there’s one feature that I, as the resident social media bod at outside the box, absolutely love: Panorama (previously Tab Candy, which I much preferred as a name).
In the past, trying to manage all my open web pages was one of those annoyances that I grew to accept as a necessary nuisance. Opening all my Google Alerts, or client mentions on Twitter turned my browser into an absolute mess, and precious tabs would be taken up with pages that I have open all the time like emails, news or last.fm. And the same thing happens outside of work as well, when I start clicking on links on Twitter or Facebook or when a quick visit to a Wikipedia article quickly leads me down a rabbit hole of never ending links to further articles with their own set of temptingly clickable links.
That's a whole mess o'tabs
The thing is, I like tidy, and Panorama delivers tidy by effectively zooming out to a macro view (a panoramic view if you like) of all the open pages which can then be grouped together, named and moved around however you like. You go from being a lost traveller in an overgrown jungle of information, to a god-like being, lord of all you survey. It’s so simple and useful that I’ve been putting up with any slow-down or bugs that browsing on a beta entails, just so that I can use Panorama.
I now own the internet
Anyway, I didn’t write this post solely to sing the praises of Panorama (oh how I wish it was still called Tab Candy), as that’s already been done plenty of times since the beta’s release a couple of months ago. Instead, I wanted to pass on my thoughts about what it could mean for social media and blogging in particular. You see, in his blog and concept videos, Firefox’s creative lead Aza Raskin, talks about the possibility of sharing your tab groups with friends or colleagues so that you have a live platform on which you can browse together. So instead of sending my comrades a link via email, or a social network, I can just give them the tab, or group of tabs that I want them to look at.
It sounds like a neat little feature to have, but what does it have to do with social media? Well, the key is in the links. If you’re going to be active in social media, links become a way of life, for illustrating points, and referencing. So if I don’t have to send links to individuals as suggested by Aza, maybe I don’t have to pepper my blogs with them either. Instead, each blog could open with a group of tabs already in place for people to refer to while they read and do what they will with afterwards. There would be a few issues, explaining which tab should be referred to at any time and setting up some form of tab hosting so that each reader could have their own individual copy of the tab group, but I feel that these should be easily overcome.
This is what you would get when clicking on this blog
So why would we want to use tab groups instead of links? From a user’s point of view, a tab group would be far more intuitive and convenient, saving them from opening the links themselves and giving them a place, separate from all of their other online activities, to pursue the blog’s topic as far as they wish. You as the blogger will have done all of the hard work for the reader, and if you question how much hard work clicking on a few links is then you’ve not been paying much attention to the way the internet works. You'll also keep your SEO people happy as you won't be leaking links.
I’m sure that I’ve missed out on a tonne of other possible implications, so if you can think of any, or if you think I’m talking nonsense, post your thoughts in our comments. If you want to download the beta, you can find it here.