cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Alan Levine

It’s such a burden to remain fashionable, especially in web technologies which rise and fade faster than the latest in sweater swim wear…

In assembling future lessons for the Headless ds106 course, I’m on the section for storytelling, and find myself hand editing a list of web resources, the “Bag of Links” approach which has not changed much since 1994. The colors went all faded high chromatic, I heard the crooning of The Mamas and Poppas, and became nostalgic for the dreams of social bookmarking, crowd sourcing dynamic link sharing.

I am so retro in that regard that I still use delicious. Go ahead an laugh, even with the Yahoo purchase and discarding, the frequent blinking of lights with the new owners, I still tag and bag my links there, a collection that goes back to 2006.

Yes I know I can migrate them to diigo (I may have done do). The modern hip kids are using things like Scoopit, and the really cool nerds go for pinboard.

In my ideal world, it should not matter where you tag… so I had this fuzzy idea of building something that would provide a strategy for sharing links that did not depend on who’s service you used.

But here’s the thing, what I want for ds106 is a faceted tag search; tag anything ds106, and include a second tag for a particular topic, so we could have resource subcollections for:

  • storytelling
  • audio
  • visual
  • design
  • video
  • remix
  • animatedgif (just for the heck of it and cause #WeLoveGIFs)

That is one of the things I love about delicious, you can construct these just by knowing how their URLs work, e.g. everything I have tagged ds106 and audio ( or everything everybody has tagged the same ( — the rss feeds are also easily constructed.

I’ve done a little digging, and found so far that pinboard and diigo both can do compound tags:

Scoopit does not seem to provide compound tags.

See and that is the thing about link sharing in Google+, Facebook, and twitter- you cant get the stuff out (there might be a way with twitter). The links go into the chute and never return.

But I am going even more retro:

pipe combine

That’s right, Yahoo Pipes. Nobody uses that, right?

Go ahead and snicker, but I think Yahoo Pipes is one of the more brilliant web building tools out there, because of its maker-like interface of dropping in modules, the way you can test output, and it does things that you cannot really do easily otherwise. It lends itself to learning logic, string manipulation, even some regex, and more.

For years I thought the only reason Yahoo kept it going was because they forgot about it. But I have a hunch that it has some critical internal use.

To try it out, I build one this morning to provide a way to mix these tag feeds together into one. You can enter a general topic tag (like ds106) and a subtopic one, plus list a strong to remove items that have something like “” in the links… as a resource for ds106, we don’t need bookmarks to ds106, right?

The first half of the pipe builds the feed for each service, based on the two input tags, using the StrongBuilder to create parts of the URLs, URLBuilder to assemble them, and FetchFeed to…

(click the pipes to see bigger pipes)

It uses Union to put those feeds together, a Filter to block out the items that link to, Unique to remove duplicates based on link url or title, then sort what is left by publication date with newest first.. and voila! One feed

(click the pipes to see bigger pipes)

(click the pipes to see bigger pipes)


audio ds106 combine

This is of course dynamic as people tag new stuff we get new stuff. But stuff does roll off the bottom eventually.

But here is my idea- build a series of these for topics in ds106, and use the RSS feed to pull into the site via FeedWordpress. I would create a custom post type, so they don’t litter the blog flow of ds106 activity. And we could than build a series of category pages that would organize these, and they could be searchable.

There is still litter among those. We could add the WP-Ratings and let visitors up vote content, or build something where we could move lesser valuable ones to draft. There are a few ways to do this.

I guess the question is, regardless of my gauche use of old tagging tools and rusty pipes, is this approach sensible? It does hinge on people tagging (and remembering the tags). Are there other services with adding?

Or just tell me to take my knit poncho and go play volleyball with Ted and Bob.

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An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. I looked into Pipes once recently, and it seemed a great tool. Some say it may be problematic b/c it’s not maintained, but if it does what we want for now, then…why not? Sounds like a great idea to me, with the only problem being people using the same tags vs different ones. Maybe if there was a master list of tags somewhere on the bookmark site that people could refer to, something like…here are the tags used so far…then that could help?

    At any rate, from the perspective of someone who doesn’t know much about the tech so can’t speak to those kinds of issues, seems like an excellent idea.

  2. I have been ruminating about this post for a few days.
    i see what you are trying to do and why. it would be cool to have resources coming in automatically and for them to be meaningful for DS106. What I see the more I re-read your post is that however you look at it it would require maintenance and possibly migration if ypipes dies. In your shoes here is what I might do.

    Create a Scoop it page for each type of assignment, feed it initial feeds and then create another assignment type ‘curation’. It then becomes the student jobs to maintain, sort suggestions, add insights to a page of their choosing. And if they are credit students they can be assessed on their work. You can also ( with an educational package) have multiple curators. This would open the possibility for team work. If you created separate pages then there is no need for double tag? or may be I am missing the point…

    As I read what you propose above, it does not have the feel of an elegant solution, more a workaround with old technology. But then you did say you were going retro.

    Take what serves and chuck the rest…of this comment I mean.

    I do not like Diigo groups – but people seem to use them really well to share and curate resources?

    I guess I am not sold that your idea would be any more permanent than the ready made curating sites….

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