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.