Tab Roulette!

Slate’s business and tech writers share what they’re reading, whether they want to or not.

Jonathan L. Fischer, Alison Griswold, Lily Hay Newman, Jordan Weissmann, and Torie Bosch, illustrations by Charlie Powell
Jonathan L. Fischer, Alison Griswold, Lily Hay Newman, Jordan Weissmann, and Torie Bosch.

Illustrations by Charlie Powell

When you come to work at Slate, one thing you quickly learn is that your colleagues have interests—sometimes very strange interests!—far outside their assigned beats. Another thing you learn: Most days, they’re drowning in browser tabs. These facts are very closely related.

That, anyway, explains why Slate’s business and technology teams decided to play a game of Tab Roulette. Let me explain: Over the past week, I direct-messaged the words “TAB STOP” to each of my colleagues at unannounced times. They then had to take screenshots of their browsers, no matter what they were browsing at the time, work-related or not. (Want to know what sappy ’80s band Jordan Weissmann loves? Read on.) I played, too; Future Tense editor Torie Bosch (who gets credit for this whole tabs idea in the first place) had the job of yelling “TAB STOP” at me.

Loathe the idea of your boss knowing how you browse the Internet each day? Then maybe don’t try this in your office. Either way, you can now live vicariously through our tabs. —Jonathan L. Fischer

Senior business and economics correspondent Jordan Weissmann’s tabs
Friday, April 17, 1:20 p.m.

Even by the standards of most bloggers, I keep an inordinate number of tabs open, and once in a while—such as after I took this screenshot—my laptop punishes this digital slovenliness by simply restarting. My MacBook is darling that way. A few important ones stand out among these 52 tabs: I was reading the New York Times feature on the coolest/most memorable/most delightfully bougie streets in major European cities, because I’m headed to Madrid and Lisbon, Portugal, for my honeymoon in May, and need to study up. Meanwhile, there were a few tabs open for a post I was working on about a study that found poor children have smaller brains (on some dimensions) than their more affluent peers. Then there’s the Allmusic page for Prefab Sprout. The band is, um, not exactly required listening. They’re a British group from the mid-’80s that tends to get described as “sophisticated pop,” which is another way of saying music for wistful 30-year-olds (I’m 29, but close enough). I told a friend to listen to one of their tracks. The friend responded, “Wait, are you my dad?” Maybe I am?

Staff writer Lily Newman’s tabs
Friday, April 17, 3:12 p.m.

My first tab on the far left is always for Gmail. Then I have a page open for a lamp I’m thinking about buying (which also explains the targeted ads on the Dr. Oz piece I was reading). I have a bunch of recipes open like one for Maple Pudding Cake and another for Matcha and Coconut Mochi Cake. Then I have a Refinery29 blog post open about a documentary called The Hunting Ground because I want to remind myself to go see it. There are a bunch of tabs related to reporting I’m doing right now on things like robots and wearables. I have “The Age of Mechanical Reproduction” by Paul Ford up because Jessica Winter, Slate’s features editor, recommended it to me and I still haven’t read it. But I will! At some point! I also have Rebecca Rosen’s “Why Are Glasses Perceived Differently Than Hearing Aids?” open because that just seems like a really good point. There’s an eBay tab for a replacement watchband I’m thinking about buying and an Adorama tab because I’ve been looking for a new printer for my mom. I have a Facebook tab on the far right and next to that is a banner I’m thinking of buying from Etsy that says “Fuck the Patriarchy.” Because, yeah, fuck that.

Staff writer Alison Griswold’s tabs
Monday, April 20, 11:24 a.m.

“So few tabs!” my editor tells me. Well, it’s early. Also, I cleaned out all my tabs, of which there are usually several dozen, over the weekend so that I could restart my increasingly slow computer. At the exact moment of this tab stop I had just published a Moneybox blog post on Starbucks’ $50 gift card that costs $200. So the back-end version of that is what you see open in Firefox, and the front end (to make sure it went up without a hitch) is the far right tab in Chrome. More importantly, though, I was reading this Onion story a friend had sent me on the deadly feud between the Associated Press Stylebook and the Chicago Manual of Style. Also open in Chrome: a FOIA form (fun!), Feedly (news!), Twitter (news and procrastination!), Slate’s technology vertical, a great piece about Slack by Amanda Hess, and a Barron’s column on tech IPOs. In Firefox: TweetDeck and the @SlateMoneybox Twitter (which you should all follow!), the home base of our back end for blogging, and a little more on Starbucks that I hadn’t closed out yet. When your tabs are this sparse, enjoy it. It never stays that way.

Future Tense editor Torie Bosch’s tabs
Monday, April 20, 2:53 p.m.

I was doing Inbox Zero before I knew it was a Thing (a Thing that is not for everyone, as Farhad Manjoo has pointed out). Accordingly, I’m pretty frugal with my tabs. I tend to close one when I’m done with it, never to be seen again (though I do not use an incognito mode, so I can always dig through my history to resurface something). Here, I have tabs open for Slate webmail, Gmail, Gawker, Facebook, Reddit, and a Business Insider post. Boring, I know—the only wild card there might be Reddit. I have a minor obsession with r/relationships, and this time I was reading a post from a guy whose wife thinks he spends too much time gaming. To be honest, that one was pretty boring; it’s too bad that Tab Roulette didn’t catch me earlier, when I had up a post from someone who was being guilted by a neighbor into shuttling her kids to school. My Google search? I was trying to refresh my memory about what went down when Twitter briefly opened up DMs in 2013, only to pull the plug.

Senior editor Jonathan L. Fischer’s tabs
Wednesday, April 22, 3:28 p.m.

Alas, my turn at Tab Roulette also fell at an uncharacteristically uncluttered moment. I had open this funny video, which mashes up the Apple Watch with Christopher Walken’s immortal “gold watch” monologue from Pulp Fiction. (Don’t follow me? Just watch it.) Obviously I had a few Slate tabs open, although by this point in the day I’m usually way more behind on reading everything I want to on the site. (It appears I planned to read Jordan’s post on Texas’ recessionary woes twice.) And I have a few Gawker Media tabs open. It’s true: Apple is basically the Galactic Empire come to Cupertino. This post, meanwhile, is just a preview of the day when we all bow down to the tractor-driving Scottish collies who have toppled our leaders. They’ll succeed because we’ll all be too absorbed in our tabs.