Here is a Bright Idea, Possibly Worth Billions

by Scott McLemee on April 21, 2007

As noted elsewhere this week, the eminent American essayist George Scialabba has recently taken his work online with

But that’s just the beginning. He’s on a roll.

Like many people, George says he has Arts and Letters Daily as his homepage. But (like just as many, I bet) he sometimes wonders if that is quite as good an idea as it once seemed. Just how many “those crazy environmentalists/feminists/PCers/structuralists/ poststructuralists/postmodernists/post-postmodernists sure are crazy!” articles do you really need to read in a given month? There is such a thing as oversaturating a point, after all.

Not content (like some of us) merely to grumble, George asks a question that I post here now with his permission:

“If the techies are so smart, why haven’t they figured out how to have a rotating home page feature that will open to a different page every day of the week, so one is sure of seeing one’s favorite sites at least once a week?”

This is a great idea, and I only think it is fair that whoever among you goes and develops it ought to throw a couple million bucks his way in gratitude.



Kieran Healy 04.21.07 at 6:35 pm

Here you go. Where’s my check?

This is also kind of what RSS Readers are for.


Scott McLemee 04.21.07 at 6:49 pm

Well, sure. But the percentage of RSS users among people online is pretty small — and besides, not everything that one might want as a homepage has a feed.

Thanks for the tip though.


KCinDC 04.21.07 at 6:51 pm

Who cares about the home page? Are people constantly rebooting? How often do you start your browser?


Kelly 04.21.07 at 7:25 pm

Huh, that homepage randomizer is really neat, Kieran.


moriarty 04.21.07 at 8:50 pm

Who cares about the home page? Are people constantly rebooting? How often do you start your browser.

I re-start my browser for every online session. What do other people do?


Hermenauta 04.21.07 at 9:12 pm

Isn’t Netvibes enough to you, guys?


Dave Menendez 04.21.07 at 9:31 pm

I’ve never really understood the home page idea. When I open a new window, it’s because I want to see a specific page. If I didn’t have my browser set to display a blank page in new windows, it would just waste its time loading an irrelevant page.


Stuart 04.21.07 at 9:42 pm

I have never understood why people wouldn’t have a home page, seeing as you don’t have to wait for a page to finish loading to select another one, so not having one just makes you have to click a few more times each time you want to go to the page you use/read most often.


vivian 04.22.07 at 12:31 am

I close my browser when I want to get work done for a while. Sites I go to daily (or weekly) are in the history, and autocomplete after very few keystrokes. When I want to surf wider, I go to a likely site, like this one (or Making Light, or others) and use the blogroll/sidelights/particles. Favorites, even.

How can people who write/blog so much be afraid of typing so little?


Bloix 04.22.07 at 12:46 am

I stopped reading A&L Daily after the third or fourth “Nature and Science are in a conspiracy to suppress the truth that global warming is a hoax” article.


almostinfamous 04.22.07 at 5:55 am

on a mac, you never have to quit an app. just hide it and come back later. why would you quit an app?


sanbikinoraion 04.22.07 at 12:33 pm

Between Firefox and my kickass Logitech keyboard (and no, this isn’t viral advertising), when I first open a browser I get my homepage, which is useful. When I press ctrl+T I get a new empty tab. If I want to just go straight to a particular website, I can push the “go” button on my keyboard, which will take me straight there. So it’s possible to have one’s virtual cake and eat it.


Kenny Easwaran 04.22.07 at 10:11 pm

I have never understood why people wouldn’t have a home page, seeing as you don’t have to wait for a page to finish loading to select another one

But it does slow things down for a moment. And, despite using a mac (contra #11), Firefox sometimes seems to get into a funny mood where it takes ten seconds between every action (probably because I’ve got about 15 tabs open at the time but who knows). So not having to load a page is nice.

Actually, the real reason I don’t use a homepage is because I have the session saver Firefox extension, which restarts Firefox with the collection of tabs open that it had last time I was using it.


Pete 04.23.07 at 1:15 pm

I keep my browser open for weeks at a time, and open pages in tabs by preference. What would I want a homepage for? The nearest thing I use is “bookmark this group of tabs”.


John Mark Ockerbloom 04.24.07 at 1:28 pm

Closing a browser now and again is useful for:

— Clearing out any excess in-memory cache or memory leaks (yes, browsers still leak memory a bit, more so often if you have extensions)

— Making sure security patches take (my browser, Firefox, auto-loads security patches, but they don’t take efect until it restarts)

— Clearing out cookies (my browser has a “clear cookies on restart” option, which is simpler than going through the menus and dialogs every time I want to clear them. It’s useful to clear them if you want to make it harder for sites to compile a long-term history of what you do online. Cookies that last while a browser session does are sufficient for most e-commerce-type activities.)

— Forcing me to stop surfing the Web and get some work done.

That’s good enough for me.

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