October 12, 2004
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Will wrote today about his mild wonderment on his time spent roaming blogs, furl-ing and webnoting interesting web sites:
So I had about 90 minutes of true blogging flow this morning, reading the latest in my Bloglines aggregator, clicking on links, Furling interesting posts, and stealing paragraphs here and there and saving them as a Webnote. When I was in the midst of it, it all seemed to connect, the tools working seamlessly together, each with its distinct purpose. I really did get lost in it, which is either a moment of higher understanding of all of this or a sad comment on my geeky existence. There was so much good stuff to read, so much that I wanted to write about and explore further. So much mental exercise at 6:30 in the morning as the sun came up over the soccer field outside my window. It was very Zen.
Now, however, it's very overwhelming. I've got this growing mountain of ideas and snippets of some very smart people, and I'm wondering what to do with it. Why, exactly, am I Furling, Webnoting, blogging my time away? Now that I am able to capture all of this information, what exactly do I do with it?
I'd have to say it is about the best way (now) to manage the glut of information we later writes about. Using an RSS reader to monitor more than 100 education or technology related web sites, to me, is an efficient way to monitor the pulse of information technology. Without it, there would be no way I could daily (or three times a day) check each site. It has led me to sources and people (such as Will's Weblog-ed) I would have never known.
My usual acid test for technologies are: Do they do something for me I could not do without them?
Furl has emerged currently as a best way (now) to manage interesting sites I don;t really have time or want to write more extensively about on the blog. Using the bookmarklet tool, I can furl a potentially interesting site in less than 60 seconds (Coming soon to a geek theater "Furled in 60 seconds"), but the key feature is being able to search for them later when I cannot remember that cool site that had the interactive timeline for art history.
The current technology of "bookmarks" is as ancient as the first web browser Mosaic. You cannot search them (almost 10 years later), they are tied to your computer... they are just plain kludgy, like wearing your 1970s leisure suit to a social function.
I had stopped using browser bookmarks eons ago for the reason I could never find things in them- they wasted my time and frustrated me. In fact, the reason I originally created our "Bag of URLs" site in 1996 was purely self-serving- to have a searchable interface to all the sites I had saved (and to have a web site description, another sadly lacking feature of browser bookmarks or so awkward to add it is self-defeating).
And it is very likely that more people may be accessing your public shared stuff then you realize. I find that m ost web content creators forget this fact that they never really see any trace of the people who use their content, that people may use it in ways you did not expect, and that the majority will never tell you they were there.
Now if Furl and del.ici.us could mate (furl with user supplied social sharable tags) we'd have something very cool. Maybe it could be housed at futl.ici.us or yu.m.my
I cannot supply the "why" to Will's wondering why he is doing this instead of taking a walk in the park or flying a kite or washing the car.... but to em there is some amount of personal gain (efficiency, information management, sheer fun) and the notion (false?) that it may actually benefit someone else out there.
blogged October 12, 2004 07:18 AM
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Oy...let's hope SOMEONE is actually benefitting from all of this...besides, me of course. I really wish I'd had a video recording that flow this morning cause I think it comes close to how information management will start to look in the near term.
You say: I had stopped using browser bookmarks eons ago for the reason I could never find things in them- they wasted my time and frustrated me. In fact, the reason I originally created our "Bag of URLs" site in 1996 was purely self-serving- to have a searchable interface to all the sites I had saved (and to have a web site description, another sadly lacking feature of browser bookmarks or so awkward to add it is self-defeating).
I thought browser bookmarks had tanked as well. Then along came the Firefox browser, giving people the power to add extensions. A combination of extensions made using bookmarks wonderful again.
First there was "Add Bookmark Here," which allowed you to navigate your bookmark menu to the location you want one to appear, and put it there. No reorganizing folders later. A dialogue box pops up after you click, allowing you to type a description for the web site. http://texturizer.net/firefox/extensions/#addbookmarkhere
Then add in "Sort Bookmarks" to instantly sort the entire list aplhabetically. http://texturizer.net/firefox/extensions/#sortbookmarks
It kept getting better with "Bookmark Links Checker," which detects updated, redirected, and broken links for you when you run it. http://texturizer.net/firefox/extensions/#bookmarkchecker
"Bookmark Backup" automatically backs up your entire bookmark list to a file of your choice when you close your browser. http://texturizer.net/firefox/extensions/#bookmarkbackup
And then the best of all. "Bookmarks Synchronizer" lets you FTP into a web site and save your bookmark file. The next time you sync, the extension checks both lists and updates both with the most recent changes. Since Firefox runs on Macs and PCs, this has been fabulous. I have a PC desktop at home, and another at work. I have a mac Laptop and Mac desktop at home. I have a user account on a Mac and PC workstation at work. And I use an instructor workstation in the classroom. I can instantly nab the most up-to-date version of my bookmarks from anywhere with an Internet connection. If I find something new while I'm there, I just sync.
I do have to remember my FTP info, but since I use it frequently, that is not a problem.
Drawback: a few of these extensions are not available for the most recent release of Firefox. Yet. But if you want a version 9 installer I'll send it to you.
Until you mentioned it, Alan, I didn't even realize that Furl doesn't allow you to surf other peoples' keywords--definitely a major drawback to it, I think, and I agree that del.icio.us (or whatever that other one is) could teach Furl a lesson! But it's still a little bit social--I just subscribed to the RSS feed for your Furl archive, so I know I'll get a good stream of "recommended" sites from someone that seems to think a lot like me!
And Will, if you're still here, I was feeling the same weirdness the other night as I read blogs, made clippings, tried out new tools, etc. In the shower, where I get all my best thinking done (there's no computer in there, after all), I decided that it's worth it to constantly scan all this info because after a while you start to see some really cool connections between things.
FYI Furl announced new upcoming features to include the ability to search across public groups and to form groups.
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