November 28, 2022

Y M L P -324

Powered by Intellect

This startup out of Carnegie Mellon wrangled my tabs once and for all • TechCrunch

Skeema’s research-backed Chrome extension launched out of beta last month

This whole browser situation is utterly untenable.

I subscribe to a (really great) newsletter called “Today in Tabs,” the name of which sums up a problem that’s surely not unique to me: By 5 p.m. EDT, I have a line of tabs of stories I want to read culled from Twitter, various Slack channels, email newsletters and homepages.

That’s to say nothing about my job. If you’re a “knowledge worker,” you invariably end your day with a slew of tabs that collectively become your to-do list, your reading list, your shopping list, your assorted communications channels. It’s chaos, and it seems most of us are just … dealing with it?

There are, of course, tab-wrangling solutions in the market: Workona, Opera and Heyday, a vertical tabs feature recently introduced for Safari, etc.

I never considered any of them, and I’m a terminally organized control freak obsessed with productivity. In other areas of my life, I look for ways to maximize the efficiency of how my space is arranged. But not my tabs.

This speaks to the hegemony of Chrome: I accepted that the collection of features bestowed upon us by Google was what I needed to do my job, shop online and keep track of my life. It never occurred to me that a bare minimum of four windows with — depending on the time of day — two to two dozen tabs apiece was excruciating.

I know now that it is. In the interest of being a little servicey, let me tell you about Skeema, a fresh startup out of Carnegie Mellon University that could easily be tossed in the “tabs management” bucket, but actually does — and has the potential to do — so much more.

I didn’t think about the fact that this obvious problem was even a problem until a few weeks ago. A friend who works at CMU here in Pittsburgh dropped a link in our (Google, duh) chat to a Medium post written by Niki Kittur, a professor at CMU’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute and the CEO/founder of Skeema, a Chrome extension that immediately changed how I spend my day on the internet.

After using Skeema for just a few days and successfully corralling my tabs, I set up a chat with Kittur to learn how it came to exist.