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The Categorize Approach to Bookmarking

Categorize is based on the insight that bookmarks are not all equally important. People generally have a few bookmarks they revisit on a regular basis. Other than that, people tend to revisit recently created bookmarks. Older bookmarks are generally unimportant. The vast majority of older bookmarks never get revisited.

To handle regularly visited bookmarks, Categorize offers Groups. Groups as the name implies group together bookmarks. More specifically, they group together bookmarks that are related in some way.

Groups can open multiple bookmarks simultaneously. Groups are an indispensable feature of Categorize; however, they can easily lead to tab clutter. Categorize offers Tabsets as a solution to tab clutter introduced by Groups. Categorize opens Groups as tabsets and allows the user to manage an order of magnitude more tabs than they can otherwise.

For accessing interesting bookmarks quickly, Categorize offers the Read Later and Important visual marks. The visual marks allow the user to defer and prioritize reading. Categorize offers a reading list in the bookmarks toolbar with one click access to the bookmarks the user has marked as Read Later. Moreover, the user can easily define similar lists and access them via the bookmarks toolbar. The Categorize Bookmarks Sidebar offers even more flexibility by offering convenient searching and filtering of bookmarks.

Categorize offers a novel approach to bookmark organization. It eschews the traditional folders and/or tags approach and uses categories. Categories combine the best of folders and tags without sacrificing flexibility. By leveraging autocompletion, categories dramatically simplify bookmark organization tasks.

Why Bookmark?

Web pages are somewhat like newspapers. They get read once and often times never get read again. So why bookmark if most web pages are not going to get read again? This question is all the more relevant as bookmarking can involve a fair amount of effort in the form of typing and thinking.

Bookmarking does require effort; however, there are solid productivity benefits to bookmarking. Bookmarking makes sense for two reasons: bookmarking allows reading to be deferred, and the act of bookmarking forces critical evaluation of the bookmarked content.

It is certainly true that most web pages do not get read more than once. However, a smart bookmarking system allows the user to defer reading. It offers the user reading flexibility in exchange for bookmarking effort.

Categorize has been designed to allow the user to split your web browsing sessions into two separate phases: a browsing phase and a reading phase. Typically people interleave these two phases in a single browsing session. However, this leads to loss of attention and productivity. People tend to gloss over important content in order to avoid excessive reading workload.

The problem is especially severe in the presence of Groups. Using the Categorize Groups menu a person can easily open 30-50 tabs with just two clicks of the mouse. This potentially creates hours of reading workload. Without a good strategy to defer reading, pretty much anyone can get overwhelmed.

To address this problem, Categorize allows quick marking of bookmarked web pages with the Read Later and/or Important visual marks. This frees a person from having to read everything interesting as it is found. By leveraging the bookmarking system a user can freely explore and go through easily digestible information, while leaving serious reading for later. Subsequently, the user can quickly access the marked bookmarks via the Categorize Reading List or the Bookmarks Sidebar.

Tip
Print out long web pages on a printer that can print on both sides of a page. In my experience, serious reading is best done away from a computer screen. Additionally, printing on only one side of a page tends to create a large pile of pages which is hard to handle, is wasteful, and tends to exaggerate the amount of reading to be done.

Interestingly, a big benefit of bookmarking is psychological. Bookmarking forces us to make choices. Choices such as:

  • Is the article I just read worth bookmarking?

  • If so, do I mark the bookmark as Important?

  • What category do I assign to the bookmark?

Instead of mindlessly ploughing through content we are forced to stop and review information. We are forced to recall similar information that we may have encountered previously. This whole process has very beneficial implications for information recall.

Moreover, bookmarking choices involve an auspicious circle. We don’t feel good when we discover that we bookmarked satire from The Onion as important news, or categorized an April Fool spoof as a significant science discovery, or considered a perpetual machine peddler to be a brilliant inventor shunned by society. We can not dodge accountability simply by claiming to have known all along that the thing was a hoax. The bookmark says we did not. Bookmarks force us to confront our gullibility and use stricter evaluation in the future.

Considered in this light, bookmarking is extremely cost-effective. A few seconds spent bookmarking can make the many hours spent reading much more valuable.

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