Surf Wisely:

Read the whole page before reviewing links

How to Surf A Site without Making Mush of Your Mind

Summary: Read a whole page before reading any linked pages. Open links in separate, daughter pages rather than overwrite the source page.

Web surfers fall into two categories, quick learners and confused learners. A discernible trait is their internet surfing technique: Single or multiple windows. One can tell the level of computer literacy by the number of windows that a person manages on a computer. It is like the difference between the single-syllable chatter of a child and the multi-syllabic exchange with an educated person. Or, as Friedrich Nietzsche said, the music of a three versus a six string instrument.

Quick learners know how to surf a website. Web surfers are like the two types of typists:

  • 10-finger typists who lock and load the keyboard, or,

  • double-digit chicken typists who peek and peck.

A simple look at the computer screen can tell whether the web surfer hangs ten or double dips. It will tell whether you build your knowledge like a truck leaking a line of sand or a front-loader building a mountain of knowledge.

  1. How many windows do you have open?

  2. How did you open them?

  3. What do you do when you find a interesting, but deeper level link that is tangential to matter at hand?

These questions are addressed below.

If one opens only one window and then clicks on links to open new windows over the old information, you are a like a dump truck leaking your information. You have the adage, out of sight, out of mind. You will end up on a page where you do not remember from where you started or for what you sought. Your mind will become mush.

Learn to use the visual organizational tools of Windows (better than nothing, barely) and a browser to build a structured mountain of information. Then you can easily mine this storehouse of knowledge over and over. Toward becoming a better surfer and faster learner, consider the following questions:

  1. How many windows do you have open?
    When you cook a multi-course meal for a large family gathering, do you prefer

    • a single-burner hotplate or

    • a modern six-burner stove

    with dual ovens and microwave to boot? Likewise with cooking up a banquet of knowledge: Don't treat your multi-window capacity as a single-tasking campfire. If you haven't finished cooking the first webpage on your computer, light up a new burner for the next course by opening a new window, e.g., use the right click on your mouse.

    Of course, a great cook knows when to limit how many items will be cooked at the same time. Don't go to the other extreme of opening too many windows to try to cook (learn) too many things at once. As every cook has a point at which too many pans in the fire yields burn food so can too many windows in the screen yield a burned out mind. How do you open your windows to optimize you meal of learning? The next question, please.

  2. How did you open your windows?
    If you design a meal, you start cooking with an overview of the meal in mind. How does this apply to ingesting new information from a website? First, don't read the information on linked pages without first reviewing/reading the entirety of the source homepage. When cooking, do you start reading other recipes without finishing and understanding the recipe with which you started? Like preparing a meal, you must have an overview of the meal before you start sequencing the different courses and dishes if you want them to come out in the best possible order.

    As you review the website's source homepage, if you find a link to new information that you want to explore, open that link into a new page (in Windows, right click, Open link in new window). These new pages are daughter pages of your mother page. Do not read new pages until you have finished reading the source page, i.e., the main meal menu or recipe.

    After you have read the homepage, review it again. Re-affirm your overview before exploring supportive subviews. Don't focus on desserts until you are comfortable with the flow of appetizers, courses and desserts. Then, start clicking on the daughter pages. Do not exit the homepage, for you may want to return quickly and easily to figure out how the daughter page fits in with the main course. In this fashion, continue to review each of the daughter pages you opened until you have read the links which you consider to be directly related to the home page or main menu.

    What do you do if you find links on the daughter pages of the mother page? Do you immediately open "granddaughter" pages? That would be like interrupting the preparation of one meal to start cooking another meal unrelated to recipes you need for your meal of the moment. If you cook like most people surf the web, don't expect your dinner guests to respond to your next dinner invitation.

    The next question please.

  3. What do you do if you find interesting, must read links on daughter pages before you have read all the daughter pages from the home page?
    To avoid mental mush, to avoid losing grasp of the main meal or big picture, you don't want to read "granddaughter" pages until you have finished with your daughter pages. What's a good surfer to do? Well, use your brower's "favorite" button. Open the link and immediately save it as a favorite. It would be a good ideal to create a new folder with a good topic phrase and the date of opening, e.g., Timism, Aug 4, 2000. When you save the link in your favorites, you can edit the name to include something on which you want to focus or from where the link came.

  4. What do you do after have read your daughter pages?
    After you have read all your daughter pages, look at the favorites that you saved. Start opening the links in the order you want. At this point you are on your own. If you cannot learn the bulk of information on a website

    • from the mother page,

    • daughter pages and

    • granddaughter pages

    using the above process, the web designer has not structure the website for an orderly, easy learning using the organizational tools of the internet. Sometimes it is the web designer's fault. But you don't want it to be your fault due to the way your surf the web.

In summary, if you don't understand a website, it may be your surfing technique. You will learn and benefit from it sooner if you:

  1. Read the home page in its entirety, right clicking on interesting links so as to retrieve this information in a new window.

  2. After reading the home page window, open up each of the windows in the order you right clicked them. Leave the home page open so you can return to it for reference as to why you procreated the "daughter."

  3. If you find an interesting link on the "daughter" page, save it as a "favorite" in a folder named after the project and idea.

  4. After you have reviewed the daughter links, read the home page one more time, before visiting one of the favorite granddaughter pages you stored. You will find that some of your granddaughters should be disinherited.

In the above way, you can get an overview of any new paradigm so as to integrate new information. The alternative is a mind of mush.

Sadly, some of the largest ISPs limit web-surfers to a single window. Don't dumb down your learning experience--explore or escape your introductory ISP. Even if you wanted to or were capable of multi-windows, your ISP has hamstrung your run on the internet superhighway. In the long-run, it would be better to first learn how to use a multi-window browser than try to learn a new, multi-faceted paradigm with a single-task process. Don't cook over a Brunson burner when modern ranges are available for free.


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