This was how things worked on the connected internet before people’s attention span got distilled down to 280 characters, clicking like buttons or reacting with emojis.

I shot out a post here about some play with rather old tech, browser bookmarklet tools, all to be craftier at Google Image searches.

In hours, Tony Hirst blogged in response, noting that the place in Google Chrome I described making some custom search shortcuts, it seemed to save a pattern for any place on the web you searched.

First up, we notice that this is yet another place where Google appears to have essentially tracked a large part of my web behaviour, creating Other search engine links for sites I have visited. I guess this is how it triggers behaviours such as “within site search” in the location bar

Tony’s right, I find in Chrome -> Search Engines -> Manage Search Engines listings for sites I know I’ve not used in months, maybe years? This apparently does not get cleaned out when you do a browser history cleanse?

Tony continues to unravel his past work with Bookmarklets (which go back to 1996 or 1997 with the birth of JavaScript in NetScape), which are really just bits of Javascript called as a URL (not even supported in Firefox), and again, critically noting:

What this all makes me think is that the personal DIY productivity tools that gave some of us, at least, some sort of hope, back in the day, have largely not become common parlance. These tools are likely still alien to the majority, not least in terms of the very idea of them, let alone how to write incantations of your own to make the most of them.

I found some of my earliest dabblings in 2004 when social bookmarking was taking off. I had started first using furl (anyone remember that) but also jumped ealy into I started messing with a bookmarklet tool that could send a site in view to 3 different places to store them.

The number of services exploded, I ended up making a tool that could build a multisite bookmarklet for you, based on the ones you desired. I kept adding them in 2005-2006.

Who remembers these services?

Look at all the dead services!

And my tool was a bit ridiculous as each site added would spawn its own pop-up window with info to submit.

On the other hand, here I figured out how to build a tool that let’s others create their own bookmarklets, without touching the code.

Another early one I made was a tool for searching my blog which at the time was still running MobableType. Once I jumped to WordPress (and that was when I figured out the search pattern for a WordPress blog), I made this “maker” which again could be used to make a tool to search any WordPress blog.

The thing is here I had figured out the bits so I could select any text on any web page, and have it search my blog for the same (or just enter into a prompt box). I actually use this on a daily basis to search my own blog– there is a more modern version that also lets you build a tool to search a Blogger blog.

And this is pretty much the code I dragged out again for yesterday’s experiment. That old JavaScript still works.

And probably the most used bookmarklet tool I have made (at least I use it) is my flickr cc attribution helper. Yes the interface is old and not flexible and maybe it should be made into a proper extension, but the old thing keeps on working.

This kind of blog post/reply/reply way of sharing was what Tony I am sure remembers. We’ve lost a lot with all the attention that gets poured into the stream of social media, and we’ve traded to get quick posts and nano-validation, but its weak. It’s information sparse.

I’ll take a blog conversation over thousands of likes or trending tags any day.

But I’m just that guy mumbling to himself on the park bench.

Thanks Tony.

Featured Image:

Old men talking
Old men talking flickr photo by Norbert Eder shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

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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. This is awesome. Scuttle’s not quite dead yet. I’m still using a self-hosted instance of it until it eventually dies of PHP versionitis… It’s also the only bookmarklet that I still actively use almost-daily. I have another one for Lessn (the self-hosted URL shortener), but I very very rarely use it anymore.

    1. I remember that you are an active scuttler. It’s kind of fun to see where the links go now. says “we’ll be back soon”. Spurl is some kind of cartoon football site. And look linkagogo is still the same.

      Maybe it’s not old people in the park, it’s Statler and Waldorf…

        1. I guess you could label me nostalgic, but it’s not a destination I look back to, but as much as they say seeking “the people in the machine.” Are we supposed to dismiss all of our past experiences? All my looking back is to find what was positive (not everything lock stock barrel) for now.

          Are things really all that better now? Won’t people in the future, if there is one, say the same about now?

          But thanks, I will have to consider whether my blog back gazing is detrimental. Maybe I need to be a futurist!

          1. no way. you’re not nostalgic for the sake of it – you’re connecting the past to today, drawing lines from experience. that’s a completely different thing. if we don’t learn from history we’re doomed to something something.

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