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Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Window Woking

I will often open multiple windows in advance when in search & pre-select browsing mode. That’s because I’m on a page with a few dozen links, and I shift-click those which look interesting, minutes in advance. A Google search result page is a perfect place for this, but many news pages or link blogs are too.

I saw my girlfriend do the same, so if there’s two of us, I’m sure there must be more (or else it would have been a ridiculously huge coincidence we ended up together).

I may even continue surfing and find more links to add to my “background collection.” After a while of course I go through those open windows and read them one by one.

Lately, I noticed that sometimes I just can’t remember why I opened a specific window (it’s certainly no pop-under). And I’m not sure there’s something profound in this, but it sure is profoundly strange... at least to me, at least the first time when I realized what was happening. (You may have also experienced this when you work with a computer all day long and you open a folder on your hard drive, and it’s the ninth hour, and you stare at the folder trying to remember what file you wanted to open.)

It’s the same trick your mind plays on you when you enter the kitchen, but you forgot what you wanted in it in the first place. The natural reaction is your sub-conscious will try justify you being there by making you grab something (anything), and, in robotic motion, return you back with what you got to where you were before.

By the way... this specific psychological phenomenon doesn’t need a new name: Douglas Adams and John Lloyd in their dictionary The Meaning of Liff invented one for it. It’s called woking (“standing in the kitchen wondering what you came in here for”). And in case you forgot what you were looking for in the window you are currently looking at, rest assured you’re not alone.


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