Just quickly jotting some thoughts down about bookmarking, as part of a more general effort of creating an accurate current overview of my information strategies.

Currently I store all my bookmarks in Evernote, by storing the full article or pdf (not just the url, removing the risk of it being unavailable later, or behind a paywall). I sometimes add a brief annotation at the start, and may add one or more tags.

I store bookmarks to Evernote from my browser on the laptop, but also frequently from my mobile, where I pick them out of various timelines.
There are several reasons I store bookmarks.

  • I store predictions people make, to be able to revisit them later, and check on whether they came true or not.
  • I store news paper articles to preserve how certain events were depicted at the time they happened (without the historic reinterpretation that usually follows later)
  • I store pages for later reading (replacing Instapaper)
  • I store bookmarks for sharing in (collated) blogposts, or on Twitter, or to send to a specific person (‘hey, this looks like what you were looking for last week’)
  • I store bookmarks around topics I am currently interested in, as resource for later or current desk research, or for a current project.
  • I store bookmarks as reminders (‘maybe this restaurant is a place to go to sometime when next in Berlin’, ‘possible family trip’, ‘possible interesting conference to attend’)

In the past, when I still used Delicious, when it had a social networking function, I also used bookmarking for discovery of other people. Because social tools work in triangles (as I said in 2006) I would check in Delicious who else had also bookmarked something, and with which tags they did so. The larger the difference in tags (e.g. I’d tag ‘knowledge management’ and they’d tag ‘medication’) or difference in jargon (me ‘complexity’, they ‘wicked_problem’, another ‘intractable’), the likelier someone would be part of different communities than me, but focusing on the same things. Then I’d seek out their blog etc, and start following their rss feeds. It was a good way to find people based on professional interests and extend my informal learning network. A way to diversify my inputs for various topics.

Visualization of my del.icio.us bookmarks
A visualisation of Kars Alfrink’s Delicious bookmarks, based on usage of tags, 2006, CC-BY

Looking at that list of uses, I notice that it is a mixture of things that can be public, things that can be public to some, and things that are just for my eyes. I also know that I don’t like publishing single bookmarks to my blog, unless I have an extended annotation to publish with it (more a reflection or response to a link, than just bookmarking that link). Single bookmarks posted to a blog I experience as cluttering up the timeline (but they could be on a different page perhaps).
The tagging is key as a filing mechanism, and annotation can be a helpful hint to my future self why I stored it, as much as a thought or an association.

When I think of ‘bringing bookmarking home’ in the sense of using only non-silo tools and owning the data myself, several aspects are important:

  • The elements I need to store: URL, date/time stored, full article/pdf, title, tags, notes. Having a full local copy of a page or PDF is a must-have for me, you can’t rely on something being there the next time you look at an URL.
  • The things I want to be able to do with it are mostly a filtering on tags I think (connecting it to one or more persons, interests, projects, channels etc.), and then having different actions/processes tied to that filtering.
  • I’d want to have the bookmarks available offline on my laptop, as well as available for sharing across devices.
  • It would be great if there was something that would allow the social networking type of bookmarking I described, or make it possible in decentralised fashion

When I look at some of the available open source bookmarking tools that I can self-host I notice that mostly the ability to save full pages/documents and the offline functionality are missing elements. So maybe I should try and glue together something from different building blocks found elsewhere.

What do you use for bookmarking? How do you use bookmarks?

5 reactions on “On Collecting Bookmarks

  1. Ton asks “What do you use for bookmarking? How do you use bookmarks?”

    I have three systems I’ve settled into.

    Email myself a link

    When I’m reading an article on my mobile that I want to return to in the very near future to read more completely, I email the URL to myself using the built-in Android share-by-email feature. This isn’t elegant, but it puts the URL in my email inbox, where there’s no question that I’ll see it.

    FreshRSS Favourites

    When I’m scanning my RSS feeds, on either desktop or mobile, using FreshRSS, and I come across something I want to make a point of returning to, but not necessarily immediately, I use the built-in FreshRSS favourites system (tap the star in the header of any item). I make a point of reviewing this section every couple of days. This is the system closest to using Instapaper or Pocket, both of which I’ve tried in the past; the advantage it has for me over those approaches is that because it’s integrated into my feedreader, I don’t have another place to go looking for these items.

    Nextcloud Bookmarks

    On the desktop, when I encounter something that I want to be able to reference in the medium-to-long term future, rather than read in the near future, I use the Nextcloud Bookmarks app, running on my self-hosted Nextcloud instance, via a bookmarklet in my browser toolbar. This app has been updated recently to include a more visual interface; this is certainly more pleasing to look at, but is overkill for my use (and it’s also rendered the tag editor a little buggy). This is the system closest to what I used to use Pinboard and Delicious for; they were both useful and full-featured, but they weren’t owned-and-operated, which is why I migrated. I only rarely miss the social features of those systems.

    To be honest, bookmarking things in this way is most useful in the mechanism it provides for assuaging “I should really bookmark this” feeling, in the moment, rather than for any practical utility it affords in the actual medium-to-long term future. I have found it a useful way to collect links to hotels, restaurants and other places I want to visit (I’ve got a very rich “Berlin” tag in this regards).

    My bookmarking hygiene is nowhere near as rich as Ton’s; it seems that it’s “saving a list of things to see in Berlin” is the area of greatest overlap.

    Bookmarks | Internet | Nextcloud | Email | FreshRSS

  2. Sometimes all these things come together so why not chime in with my own thoughts and progress. The last couple of days you might have seen some more bookmarks on this blog insted of fully fleshed out blogposts.

    It is my way of public experimenting. I just try stuff on this blog and see where it goes, both in terms of my own satisfaction and reactions of my readers. Since my wife is a bit behind on my blog and I haven’t heard from my mum yet, I’m glad the other readers responded. Ton started his day with some musings on his bookmark-strategy (yes, that is a thing for people like us) that resonated some of the talks we had last week. Peter responded with his strategy on how to save bookmarks.

    BTW, if you’re wondering why I am writing in English, it’s my service to Peter to save him another trip to the machine-translator and get an idea what I am talking about 😉

    Let me share my thoughts, in no particular order.

    My blog has always been this wunderkammer, a cabinet of curiosities where the categorical boundaries are yet to be defined. Ofcourse you can see some of the topics that are of interest, but I feel my blog should be some short of Frankopedia, where you get to know more about me, not just as a professional but also as a person. So I love to share links and pointers to all sorts of places on the web. Sometimes with some context, sometimes just a link.

    With my setup pre-Indiewebcamp it was quite a hassle to post a bookmark, so I refrained myself from doing so. But since I have my Micropub endpoint up and running, posting a bookmark has become much easier. Although not every app that supports Micropub bookmarking, does it in a very good way. The app Indigenous (iOS) is one example. When I bookmark something with it, it just posts the URL and a sort-of-summary in a Markdown file and it’s up to me to do something with it.

    This has led me down another rabbithole for the past three evenings to try and come up with solutions on how to fix this. I would love my site to pick up the title and some basic information from this URL I bookmarked. This led me to the Metainspector gem, which led me to learning Ruby to write a Jekyll plugin I could use for myself…

    You see where I was going with this? I just wanted to save some bookmarks and now I’m learning Ruby to write my own plugins.

    This blog is a hobby, I don’t have to make money from it. So I don’t mind spending some time and energy into it. I don’t mind learning some basics of a program language. But today I asked myself why I would go this route? Why wouldn’t I take the route I started a while ago and go back to Pinboard as my central place for bookmarks I’d like to share here? I like the service, even though it is not owned-and-operated as Peter suggested.

    But there’s more then just Pinboard where I bookmark stuff. Here’s a quick rundown on how I bookmark and why.

    Why bookmark?

    There are a few reasons for me to bookmark stuff from the web.

    Things that interest me to read later. One of the biggest categories and one that I’ll never see the bottom of. This pile is huge since there is always something interesting to read.
    Things for professional development. This can be more long-term or current stuff I’m working on and need quick access to.
    Things for personal use. Interesting stuff for our house. Ideas for our holidays.
    Things I’d like to share with others on my blog and/or social channels.
    Things I visit on a daily basis or I need available as part of a workflow .
    Random fun stuff I might do something with.
    Where bookmark?

    I store my bookmarks on a few places, depending on the function of the bookmark. Remember it is not very binary. Sometimes a bookmark has multiple functions

    Bookmark bar. Very vintage, very low-tech. I have a lot of sites available from my fingertips ni the bookmarkbar in my browser. I don’t bother syncing it with my mobile, since most of it is work- and desktopbased.

    Pinboard. This is my current place to go and I am very happy with it. I use it to store all sorts of links for what I am working on. You’ll find all sorts of links, ranging from the differences between CSS frameworks to a brilliant mashup between A-HA and Kendrick Lamar. Some of these links are for current projects, some are to share later. Some are just there because I liked them.

    Evernote. My Evernote notebooks are filled with local copies of articles, PDF’s and ideas for projects and archived pages of things I worked on. This is also the place to store bookmarks and thoughts for our family. Like holiday ideas, inspiration for our interior, garden or other rooms and a lót of recipes I know will do well with our kids.

    Inoreader Stars. Since RSS is back as part of my information-intake (I wouldn’t call it a diet) I use Inoreader as my go-to reader. Every now and again I star individual messages, like Peter does as well. This are most of the time articles I need to get back to or might be of interest for this blog or social channels.
    Where to go next?

    I would love to have a better connection between my Inoreader Stars and Pinboard. Besides that, I’d love to work some more on an automation like Brett Terpstra’s Web Excursions including the amazing archive. I think my first steps with Pinboard and NodeJS will help me with this, since I now know better how to post articles through automation and the Micropub services. I will stop my foray into Jekyll plugins and Ruby development, for now, and will work on a better service to post bookmarks from Pinboard to this blog on a regular basis.

    This was also posted to /en/indieweb on Indieweb.xyz

  3. I responded to Frank’s response to bookmarks and the realised that you had started the conversation.
    I have been bookmarking on my (second) site for a while now. In the past I used Diigo, but I would save everything without much thought. I tinkered with Radio3, but it just did not work for what I was after.
    I feel posting on my site has made me more conscious of what I save and share. I have progressively extended this too incorporating the various post kinds.
    Before I save bookmarks, I use a combination of Pocket and Trello as a temporary store. I have documented this here.
    Hope that helps.

    via collect.readwriterespond.com

  4. Peter pointed me to the webarchive format and some tools to store pages that way, as part of my search on how to store a full webpage. I want to be able to store full pages with my bookmarking routine. Something I now do with Evernote, but am looking to replicate outside Evernote, as part of no longer ignoring the green elephant in the room.

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