Remember when online Browsers were useful tools? Do you remember when you could follow sites you liked, check your email and view your calendar, without leaving your browser? Or I should say, remember when you could do all that without Big Tech that feeds your personal data into the recurring part of surveillance capitalism?
I remember those days because I still live in them, thanks to a browser you may not have heard of: Vivaldi.
This week, the team behind the Vivaldi browser released version 4.0, which seems like a good time for me to tell you to give it a try. To rip off Neil Stephenson, Vivaldi surpasses all other browsers “in much the same way that the midday sun makes the stars … it̵
Customization is the key
Stephenson actually talked about the text editor Emacs, whose infinite recursivity makes it the programmer’s Holy Grail of text editor. But I think the metaphor applies just as well to Vivaldi, compared to other browsers. I do not think there is anything to say that Vivaldi is emacs of browsers.
Vivaldi CEO Jon von Tetzchner was also a co-founder of Opera, one of the earliest browsers to feature features such as pop-up blocking and tabbed browsing. The level of customization and power user features that differentiate Opera is present today in Vivaldi, along with much more.
At first glance, Vivaldi looks like a slightly more colorful version of your average browser – mirroring the colors on the web page is a remarkable Vivaldi feature that Apple shamelessly copied in Safari. It is not until you dig into Vivaldi’s settings that you discover its real power: the ability to tailor your browsing experience exactly the way you want it.
Like Emacs, everyone’s Vivaldi setup and experience can be different, and that’s the point. Vivaldi’s tagline is “A browser for our friends.” By “our friends”, Vivaldi means people like you and me– assuming of course that you are someone who is online to do work and keep in touch with your friends, instead of consuming the whims and algorithms of Big Tech.
For example, I like keyboard shortcuts and have never used mouse movements in my life. Vivaldi supports both. I utilize the customizable keyboard shortcuts and ignore the mouse movements, and everyone wins. Vivaldi 4.0 recognizes this with a new dialog that offers some presets: Essentials, Classic, or My Favorite, Fully Loaded.