browser archaeology by Alan Z. '23, MEng '24
a non-comprehensive analysis of the 95 tabs I have open on my phone
I’ve always been pretty picky about managing my tabs on my laptop—I don’t like having too many things open, since this inevitably slows down my computer more than I would otherwise like. These days, I use a web browser that no, this is not completely insane; there are a few tabs I keep around permanently because I am likely to refer back to them often. Most things, however, are ephemeral, because I can always find them again if I need. which tends to keep things pretty clean.
My phone, however, is a different story. The problem with the phone browser is that, when I’m done looking at websites, I just close the whole thing, expecting the tabs to be gone afterwards. Yet, they persist, and when I return to Chrome, they are still there, yearning to be read. Some of these tabs have been open for nearly a year, with no hope of ever actually being closed or dealt with. This post commemorates their existence, providing commentary when it is needed.
Many of these poems I keep around because there is a line, or two, or maybe more which I keep coming back to. Mostly, I just scroll back up to them and read them whenever I need to, which is sometimes often.
- “Poem 133: The Summer Day” by Mary Oliver – the “Tell me, what is it you plan to do / with your one wild and precious life?” poem
- “Wild Geese” by Mary Oliver – not sure why this is on a University of New Mexico Physics site, but I’m glad it is
- “Sonnet 116: Let me not to the marriage of true minds” by Shakespeare
- “Autumn Day” by Rainer Maria Rilke
- “回乡偶书二首” by 贺知章 – I learned this poem as a kid, and I heard it again recently at a performance of a bunch of short plays in Seattle, which made it interesting to come back to
- “The Second Coming” by W.B Yeats
- “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot – my wing and I used to memorize parts of this poem, and I’m still not exactly sure why, but here it is
- “There is a vitality, a life force…” – this is not a poem, but it is a quote from Martha Graham to Agnes De Mille which talks about making art, which my old choir conductor introduced me to, and which I think about a lot
MIT websites (5)
- “Emerson/Harris Program for Private Study” – MIT provides a program for instrumentalists and vocalists to get private lessons for free! I’ve never even auditioned because it’s very scary, but the people who do it are incredibly talented, the recitals are very cool, and the tab lives on in my browser
- “Listening Tour” – as you may have heard, MIT got a new president last year, and she’s been going around and I actually got to talk to her as part of our Dormitory Council last year, which was pretty cool! which is pretty cool, and the feedback is publicly available!
- “thank you notes” – I have a habit of keeping around nice notes which people write me, because sometimes I need a bit of an emotional/ego boost when I’m feeling particularly down about things; this is one of those posts
- “MIT Policies & Procedures Section 9.2 Personal Conduct and Responsibilities Towards Students and Employees“
- “BSO College Card Program” – MIT subsidizes the BSO college card, which is a program that the Boston Symphony Orchestra provides to students. You buy one (1) card for $10, and you get to go to most concerts for free!! It’s worth it even if you just go to one concert :)
social media (4)
There was less of this than I expected—sometimes I have like five different I refuse to call it X under any circumstances. tabs open, but I guess I usually prune them when I realize that fact.
- a Facebook post about MIT’s president and our graduate student union negotiations
- John Fetterman’s Twitter profile
- Twitter.com (x2)
graduate school investigation (4)
I’ve been kicking around the idea of applying to various kinds of graduate school programs, and, for a brief period of time, I was thinking about applying to playwriting MFA programs. I’m now thinking that I’ll push that decision off a few more years, but, in the meantime, there’s still lots of writing to be done.
- BU Playwriting Admissions
- UIowa Theatre Arts Graduate Programs
- UT Austin Playwriting (MFA in Theatre)
- Michener Center for Writers (MFA in Writing)
random articles (7)
These are mostly things I wanted to read at some point but never really finished. I don’t have a lot of thoughts about them, because, well, I haven’t read them yet.
- “Hey Elon: Let Me Help You Speed Run The Content Moderation Learning Curve“
- “The Crimes of SEAL Team 6“
- “Researchers Achieve ‘Absurdly Fast’ Algorithm for Network Flow“
- “Everything We Know about the History of Diversity Is Wrong“
- “Cultural Crackdown in China Shuts Comedy and Music Shows“
- “Bar fights, neighbor disputes, playground justice: How ‘stand your ground’ plays out in court“
google searches (12)
because sometimes you search things and you don’t follow up.
- “piezoelectric bone” – I think this search is from a Dear Hank and John episode?
- “cops the musical” – someone in a pit orchestra I was conducting mentioned this
- “bob widlar“
- “chunking express“
- “watch spider-man: into the spiderverse” – I wanted to watch Into the Spider-verse again before watching Across the Spider-Verse this summer, but instead I did neither
- “sloop john b call my dad” – from the New York Times crossword
- “the way the moon’s in love with the dark” – an art piece from the Denver Art Museum I really, really like
- “douglas shadle“
- “clairo alewife” – from a spotify playlist with song titles from the MBTA Red Line
- “tse-whit-zen” – from my time in Seattle; they were trying to build a dock to build a new floating bridge to replace a bridge that sank, and they found the remains of a pre-European contact village instead
- “le nozze di figaro“
- “dirty laundry show“
Every year, at some point in June, I get really into reading Supreme Court opinions and following the big decisions of the term. Mostly, I just get kind of depressed reading them, but sometimes is this weird? Maybe it's weird.
- “Supreme Court upholds Section 2 of Voting Rights Act“
- “United States, ex rel. Polansky v. Executive Health Resources, Inc.“
- “United States v. Hansen“
- “Smith v. United States“
- “Pugin v. Garland“
- “Haaland v. Brackeen“
- “Supreme Court cabins reach of aggravated identity theft statute“
- “Jack Daniel’s wins big in challenge to spoofing ‘Bad Spaniels’ dog toy“
- “United States v. Texas“
- “Biden v. Nebraska“
- “Samia v. United States“
Over a quarter of my tabs are just Wikipedia articles I pulled up to reference once, most of which I probably no longer need, but, y’know, sometimes you just have to keep them around in case you want to come back to them.
- “Chronicle of a Death Foretold” – a pretty good short story I read in a Spanish class once, which I wanted to look at again; would recommend
- “La Cage aux Folles (musical)“
- “Dominic Cooper” – I’m pretty sure I only have this tab open because of Mamma Mia
I’ve spent the past two summers in Seattle, which has some did you know that the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evergreen_Point_Floating_Bridge">Evergreen Point Floating Bridge</a> is the longest floating bridge in the world? this is just what remains of a pretty intense series of searches I did one morning on the bus to work.
- “Tse-whit-zen” – as mentioned earlier
- “Mount Baker Tunnel“
- “Ballard Terminal Railroad“
- “Burke-Gilman Trail“
- “Convention Place station” – okay, okay, one more piece of trivia. Seattle’s light rail travels through a downtown tunnel that used to be shared with buses. the buses used to stop at a station called Convention Place, until eventually they cut the bus traffic and expanded the Convention Center over it, but you can still see the emergency signage for Convention Place inside the tunnel if you look carefully.
- “Marin Alsop” – I got to see Marin Alsop conduct the Seattle Symphony this summer! Among a number of other pieces, they played “Symphonic Dances from West Side Story,” which I got to play in high school and therefore was very excited by :)
- “Symphony No. 2 (Mahler)” – another Seattle Symphony concert! I was very impressed by this piece as well, and wanted to know more about it
- “Gurre-Lieder” – a piece I mostly know of because it “calls for exceptionally large orchestral and choral forces” (literally hundreds of musicians and singers)
computers et. al.
I could talk your ear off about most of these things, but I will restrain myself. Let’s just say that computers are very cool.
- “CPUID” – a thing that tells a computer program what the CPU it is running on can do!
- “System Management Mode“
- “AMD APU“
- “Galerkin method“
- “Baudot code” – I think this was an NYT crossword answer recently
- “List of military nuclear accidents” – your guess is as good as mine
- “Stephanie Herseth Sandlin” – obligatory South Dakota content
- “Tontine” – love when my investment allows me to “share the risk of living a long life” by playing “a kind of mortality lottery”
- “Pat Robertson controversies“
- “2022 Australian federal election” – something something Anthony Albanese
- “Serenity Prayer“
- “Creatine” – biological pathways go brrrr
- “Atlanta Braves” – did you know the Atlanta Braves used to be the Boston Beaneaters? this is the only reason I opened this tab
other things that computer nerds care about (6)
- “Computer Engineering for Babies” – because sometimes you just need to know what an XOR gate is
- “Arm Cortex-A Series Programmer’s Guide…Snoop Control Unit” – your computer probably has multiple CPU cores on it, and all of them have data caches which make them run faster. sometimes, though, if you have a program running on more than one core, it has to make sure those data caches are consistent! the snoop control unit is one of those things that can make this possible.
- “AEPIC Leak” – it turns out modern CPUs are very complicated and so lots of security bugs abound! they’re usually super specific so kind of hard to explain, but they are quite cool
- “USB Type-C and power delivery 101 – Power delivery protocol” – this is why you can now plug your USB-C laptop charger into your USB-C phone and it doesn’t explode – if your hardware is compatible. if you buy sketchier chargers, this might not be true; just be careful.
- “I’m mystified what this ‘memory training’ even is” – RAM, the this is a hand-wavy explanation, but, y'know, Wikipedia exists to learn more. is one of those things in your computer that’s getting more complicated over time. it turns out the wires for modern RAM have variable timing based on all sort of conditions, and this really matters so that memory works correctly.
I don’t even know anymore (14)
- “Scott Duke Kominers“
- “FTA Safety Management Inspection Response” – because the MBTA is working on responding to some federal concerns
- “Olivia Lyrics – One Direction” – throwback
- “Shuppet (Pokemon)“
- “Drifloon (Pokemon)” – what a cute balloon ghost
- “‘S’ Series baton” – I’ve conducted two shows for the Musical Theatre Guild in the last year, and was thinking about buying a baton in June, kind of just for fun, but haven’t committed to it yet
- “‘E’ Series baton“
- “‘P’ Series baton“
- “The 33rd First Annual Ig Nobel Prizes” – the most important awards in science after the Nobel Prizes
- “The Subtle Tee, Sweater, and Hoodie” – sometimes, you think about buying podcast merch
- application for Company One Theatre’s S25 PlayLab Circuit – one of the playwriting things I’m applying to!
- my personal website
- the 1 bus schedule
- no, this is not completely insane; there are a few tabs I keep around permanently because I am likely to refer back to them often. Most things, however, are ephemeral, because I can always find them again if I need. back to text ↑
- I actually got to talk to her as part of our Dormitory Council last year, which was pretty cool! back to text ↑
- I refuse to call it X under any circumstances. back to text ↑
- is this weird? Maybe it's weird. back to text ↑
- did you know that the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge is the longest floating bridge in the world? back to text ↑
- if your hardware is compatible. if you buy sketchier chargers, this might not be true; just be careful. back to text ↑
- this is a hand-wavy explanation, but, y'know, Wikipedia exists to learn more. back to text ↑