• Search history is observability for web browsing.

  • Why is observability important?

  • The parallel between observability and search history

  • How does chrome://history/journeys help?

  • People who don’t work in tech wouldn’t think observability is important.

  • It actually is important because it helps you answer questions to which you don’t currently know the answer.

  • Observability should roughly tell you:

    1. What the state of the system was at a given time
    2. How the system got into that state.
  • When I browse the Internet, I treat my browsing history as

  • Instead of tracking down errors, you might want to find:

    • articles you came across but didn’t think to save
    • random Internet rabbit holes that you want to reminisce about
    • a snapshot of what you “did” on you computer on a given day
    • etc. etc.
  • Automatically captures context

  • Example for when I think it would be helpful

  • The Browser Compared to Other Tools

  • Limktations

    Definitely not programmable notes (yet)

  • It’s a way of future-proofing your code.

  • Even if you haven’t thought through every possible way your change could make things go wrong in your system, having good observability gives you the tools to figure out what went wrong after the error already happened.

  • Logs that tell you exactly what the state of the system was at the time you’re interested in investigating are very helpful.

  • But even more important is understanding how your system got into the unideal state. This is why many services[^2] that process client requests across multiple machines assign a unique “internal trace ID” to each request, that’s passed along to the next machine in the request lifecycle. This trace ID lets the observer view the complete history of a specific request at a glance and pinpoint when the system entered a bad state, even if the actual error didn’t occur till much later.

    [^2]: I only know this definitively for Airtable, but I would be very surprised if this wasn’t widespread.

  • For all of these use cases, you don’t realize the webpage you were on was actually important until after you’ve already forgotten about it. This is a niche that context-capturing and article-saving tools like Hook – Links beat searching , Pinboard, and Matter will never be able to occupy. All of these apps require that you consciously decide to save/take notes on/capture the context around whatever you come across on the internet, and making that decision for every single tweet/article/page is way too much mental overhead to be sustainable. You will inevitably come across cool stuff that you want to find later, and having search history as an observability tool is perfect for that need.

{"cards":[{"_id":"28ef6c28225f659dec000024","treeId":"28ef6c44225f659dec000022","seq":22984068,"position":1,"parentId":null,"content":"# Search history is observability for web browsing."},{"_id":"28ef6979225f659dec000029","treeId":"28ef6c44225f659dec000022","seq":22984513,"position":0.5,"parentId":"28ef6c28225f659dec000024","content":"## Why is observability important?"},{"_id":"28ef5869225f659dec00002a","treeId":"28ef6c44225f659dec000022","seq":22984554,"position":1,"parentId":"28ef6979225f659dec000029","content":"People who don't work in tech wouldn't think observability is important."},{"_id":"28ef5786225f659dec00002b","treeId":"28ef6c44225f659dec000022","seq":22984526,"position":2,"parentId":"28ef6979225f659dec000029","content":"It actually is important because it helps you answer questions to which *you don't currently know the answer*."},{"_id":"28ef56af225f659dec00002c","treeId":"28ef6c44225f659dec000022","seq":22984521,"position":1,"parentId":"28ef5786225f659dec00002b","content":"It's a way of future-proofing your code."},{"_id":"28ef4744225f659dec000032","treeId":"28ef6c44225f659dec000022","seq":22984558,"position":2,"parentId":"28ef5786225f659dec00002b","content":"Even if you haven't thought through every possible way your change could make things go wrong in your system, having good observability gives you the tools to figure out what went wrong after the error already happened."},{"_id":"28ef3df1225f659dec000034","treeId":"28ef6c44225f659dec000022","seq":22984529,"position":3,"parentId":"28ef6979225f659dec000029","content":"Observability should roughly tell you:\n1. *What* the state of the system was at a given time\n2. *How* the system got into that state. "},{"_id":"28ef3fb3225f659dec000033","treeId":"28ef6c44225f659dec000022","seq":22984538,"position":1,"parentId":"28ef3df1225f659dec000034","content":"Logs that tell you exactly what the state of the system was at the time you're interested in investigating are very helpful. "},{"_id":"28ef334a225f659dec000035","treeId":"28ef6c44225f659dec000022","seq":22984559,"position":2,"parentId":"28ef3df1225f659dec000034","content":"But even more important is understanding *how* your system got into the unideal state. This is why many services[^2] that process client requests across multiple machines assign a unique \"internal trace ID\" to each request, that's passed along to the next machine in the request lifecycle. This trace ID lets the observer view the complete history of a specific request at a glance and pinpoint when the system entered a bad state, even if the actual error didn't occur till much later. \n\n[^2]: I only know this definitively for Airtable, but I would be very surprised if this wasn't widespread. "},{"_id":"28ef6ae8225f659dec000027","treeId":"28ef6c44225f659dec000022","seq":22984565,"position":1,"parentId":"28ef6c28225f659dec000024","content":"## The parallel between observability and search history"},{"_id":"28ef4d0b225f659dec000031","treeId":"28ef6c44225f659dec000022","seq":22984643,"position":2,"parentId":"28ef6ae8225f659dec000027","content":"When I browse the Internet, I treat my browsing history as "},{"_id":"28eea556225f659dec00003c","treeId":"28ef6c44225f659dec000022","seq":22984745,"position":3,"parentId":"28ef6ae8225f659dec000027","content":"Instead of tracking down errors, you might want to find:\n- articles you came across but didn't think to save\n- random Internet rabbit holes that you want to reminisce about\n- a snapshot of what you \"did\" on you computer on a given day\n- etc. etc."},{"_id":"28ee7a7c225f659dec00003d","treeId":"28ef6c44225f659dec000022","seq":22984779,"position":1,"parentId":"28eea556225f659dec00003c","content":"For all of these use cases, you don't realize the webpage you were on was actually important until after you've already forgotten about it. This is a niche that context-capturing and article-saving tools like [Hook – Links beat searching](https://hookproductivity.com/) , [Pinboard](https://pinboard.in), and [Matter](https://hq.getmatter.app/) will never be able to occupy. All of these apps require that you consciously decide to save/take notes on/capture the context around whatever you come across on the internet, and making that decision for every single tweet/article/page is way too much mental overhead to be sustainable. You will inevitably come across cool stuff that you want to find later, and having search history as an observability tool is perfect for that need."},{"_id":"28eebad5225f659dec000038","treeId":"28ef6c44225f659dec000022","seq":22984566,"position":2,"parentId":"28ef6c28225f659dec000024","content":"## How does chrome://history/journeys help? "},{"_id":"28eea973225f659dec00003a","treeId":"28ef6c44225f659dec000022","seq":22984591,"position":0.5,"parentId":"28eebad5225f659dec000038","content":"### Automatically captures context "},{"_id":"28eeafac225f659dec000039","treeId":"28ef6c44225f659dec000022","seq":22984860,"position":1.25,"parentId":"28eebad5225f659dec000038","content":"### Example for when I think it would be helpful"},{"_id":"28eda05c9c163a260300003a","treeId":"28ef6c44225f659dec000022","seq":22984861,"position":2,"parentId":"28eebad5225f659dec000038","content":"### The Browser Compared to Other Tools"},{"_id":"28ed9f7e9c163a260300003b","treeId":"28ef6c44225f659dec000022","seq":22984849,"position":1,"parentId":"28eda05c9c163a260300003a","content":"Links: https://thesephist.com/posts/browser/#:~:text=Even%20when%20using,better%20thoughts%2C%20faster."},{"_id":"28ed73ad9c163a260300003e","treeId":"28ef6c44225f659dec000022","seq":22984866,"position":3,"parentId":"28eebad5225f659dec000038","content":"\nLimktations \n\nDefinitely not programmable notes (yet)"}],"tree":{"_id":"28ef6c44225f659dec000022","name":"Search history is observability for web browsing","publicUrl":"search-history-is-observability-for-web-browsing"}}