Matt Haughey’s Quick thoughts on Pinboard. I mentioned this as an aside a while ago, but it’s good to see someone spell it out (it seems like I’m bad at that) It’s also good to see Maciej Ceglowski’s reply, too.
One quick suggestion that I feel would help this (although I know how hard ‘easy’ things can be, and it’s far simpler to suggest than to code) would be that the current import screen should allow the privacy of each feed to be set independently. That’d let people archive their Twitter replies but share the links from delicious that are more suited to the site.
The fallout from the “sunset: Delicious” slide continues to echo around. Perhaps because bookmarks are a simple place to start, there are a few people beginning to host them locally; for example, here’s Jeremy Keith’s recent post (quoted approvingly at No More Sharecropping). Meanwhile, Phil Wilson said on Twitter that he
doesn’t really understand why people are looking to move their content into other, 3rd party, proprietary bookmarking systems.
And Les Orchard made a worthwhile post with its own summary:
Don’t depend on Delicious; host your own, pay for it elsewhere, or hope for the best. Use real-time feeds to stitch the bookmarking diaspora back together into topical aggregate indexes.
My answer is related to my post on Saturday about why I’m sticking with Delicious: the network. Tom Insam asked
what does the delicious network do that I can’t also do with an RSS reader and independent linklogs?
It’s a fair question. I’d say the main issues are UI and, more seriously, discoverability.
The Delicious network page is built for links. It shows notes nicely, and also displays tags and who posted something in a compact fashion. (The Pinboard network page does the same, to be fair.) By contrast, generic RSS readers are, well, generic. In dealing with everything from links to photos to long form text to podcasts, they have to make compromises, but for browsing links, it makes them a poor interface.¹²
The more pressing problem, to my mind, is discovery. There’s a few facets to this. Firstly, below every link, both Pinboard and Delicious allow you to see who else bookmarked it, which can be useful for finding people with a similar set of interests. Secondly, both provide a central place where you can enter someone’s nick and see if they exist.³ Thirdly, Delicious allows you to browse the network of another user, which is another route to finding people you may want to follow.
If people move to independent linklogs, how do you replicate these issues of discovery? Jeremy Keith dodges this question by syndicating his links into the framework of the centralised services, which works, but the larger challenge of a fully decentralised system that still allows the network effects seems to me to be at least an order of magnitude harder than getting people to self-host, and even that’s tricky. (After all, most people have moved to Pinboard or another hosted service, like Diigo, rather than downloading their bookmarks).
Still, all of the most interesting problems are hard ones. I’d love to know if I’m missing people working on this (as it seems like the sort of thing Tantek Çelik, amongst others, would care about) and, if not, who else is thinking about it. That, or be told I’m overstating the problem. Anyone?
¹ The confusion in the various RSS formats over whether links should point to the final destination or the post describing the destination hasn’t helped.↩
³ Neither Delicious nor Pinboard provides a proper “people search” feature, but they at least have a central list, which makes it far easier to build than one based on a general search engine.↩
Personally, while I’ve always valued the site for its ability to store stuff, what’s always made Delicious most useful to me is its network pages in general, and mine in particular. It’s set up for one-key access in Safari, along with a very few other places. The lack of functional social features - it has a network, but you can only see your own, and friend finding is basically impossible - is why, despite the fact I signed up for Pinboard when it first hit beta, when it was still free, I never actually visited it. (Of course, that is to a large extent by design.)
I still find its pared-down interface slightly too minimal, and the ability to pull in feeds from Twitter and Instapaper has led to some people falling foul of link pollution. (If you could control whether links were marked as private per-service, that’d help, but for now that’s not an option.) (I should also admit that the prevalence of packratius links on Delicious proves that there’s at least some role for aggregation.)
Frankly, despite the burst of migrations, my delicious network is still more full of good links, although it’s been starved of some of the most interesting posters. I suppose I’ll either have to get used to hitting two pages, or relent on RSS reading and use Fever or some other aggregator. I’m annoyed that it’s come down to it, despite the fact I can see exactly why people have moved.
(As a side note, I think this also proves beyond all doubt how important the social aspect of any service is. For all that individuals can download their links, the value I get out of the site is not my 3,500 bookmarks, but the 345,681 in my network. The continued utility of that is what’s most at risk.)
Anyway, since Pinboard can mirror from Delicious but not vice versa, I’m going to keep using the latter as my primary service. Pinboard can carry on being what it’s been for the last eighteen months: a hot spare, but not the service I really want to be using.
- It links your feeds
- It uses via: to indicate service posting when I use it to attribute
- Twitter is private, delicious is broadcast
- Twitter is for nonsense, delicious is serious
- I could get around those if it posted private then let me share; it doesn’t
- I can’t quote meaningfully in only 120 characters
- It posts the short link text in the description, which is redundant and ugly
- For posts from favourites, there’s even more ugly description text
Still, I suppose if it works for you, knock yourself out.
While idly surfing Twitter search trends, I noticed a Techchrunch article on MicroPlaza was a trending topic. I was intrigued, as I’d been considering ways of getting links out of Twitter for months, and I managed to get an invite code and have a quick look around.
MicroPlaza shows all the links that have been posted by people I follow, with any URL shortening expanded out. The main page of the service is the timeline view (which, as you see, can be shared with others). I think the best comparison is with my delicious network page, which shows a similar sort of information, but makes some different - and, to me, preferable - decisions.
Firstly, the MicroPlaza view includes a screengrab. This has the potential to be quite informative, but it also takes up a lot of space. Magnolia (RIP) used to do something similar, and I think it’s part of the reason I never used the service in anger- I want something like this to be quite information dense.
Secondly, the delicious view doesn’t do any deduping- if ten of my network post a link, it shows up ten times, in the order they posted it. In contrast, MicroPlaza shows each link complete with a list of all the twitter users who’ve posted it, which is a nice idea, but it can also mean that I can’t always see which of my contacts actually posted it. There is an “expand” button, but it’s a bit of a pain to have to use it (and wait for the twitterers to be fetched) before finding the person.
Personally I’d love to see options to lose the screengrab, and to improve the visibility of the people I follow. (I don’t really care about the rest of Twitter, except possibly as a source of statistical ‘everyone is interested in this’ information.)
MicroPlaza uses the still-in-beta OAuth support to allow posting, which is good (and avoids the password antipattern). However, it doesn’t use the same support to pull out links from people you follow who keep their updates private (such as, well, me). As Tom pointed out on IRC, privacy makes the entire site a lot harder to build:
they’d also then end up with storing your replies once for everyone who followed you, or just once and having to very closely track the twitter follow network to not leak privacy everywhere
Still, for all my quibbles, this really is a lot better than the previous Twitter URL services, like twitturly, which surface popular links across the network, rather than the stuff I actually care about. When a service comes along that’s denser, and includes (and respects) private updates, I can see myself using it a great deal. For now, MicroPlaza looks handy for catching up when I’m too busy to read every tweet and follow every link.