Aggregating interesting things on the web has been a plague on my life for several years now. When I lived in Boston and started my first grad school program (late 2006/early 2007) I didn’t have a computer or Internet access at home. I would occasionally spend my lunch breaks on my work computer doing research for school, and then need to access the links or other information from a computer at the school library. For a while I would send myself emails with links and attachments, but that got frustrating to keep track of, and in the days before my Gmail account and access to Google Docs, I didn’t think I had a lot of alternatives.
Then I discovered delicious, the web-based bookmarking site. I used it heavily for school, bookmarking and sorting all kinds of links. After I moved home and had a laptop/internet access, I used it just as heavily for managing my first library job search, then eventually for recipes as I began to discover cooking blogs, as a wishlist for items not available through Amazon, to bookmark activities and events I was interesting in attending around Chicago, and to share those activities with my sister/partner-in-crime, who I’d convinced to join the service.
Delicious has since been revamped, and I’m not fond of the new look, and I’ve found some glitches that make it less appealing. I use social bookmarking now to mark articles for access from my laptop, and two work computers. Often I’ll find a long article at work that I want to read later at home, or I’ll be halfway through an article at the reference desk when my shift is up. I’ve cobbled together a few services for these types of tasks, none of which is really meeting all my needs.
Google Reader, typically paired with Instapaper. This aggregates the blogs I follow, so if I go a few days without checking in, I don’t have to remember what the last day I checked was and can keep the info to read later. Often with long articles, I’ll save the details to Instapaper and export them to my Kindle so I can read ad and glare free. Doesnt’ work well for graphic-rich articles, obviously, but Instapaper is one of only two apps I’ve paid for in my year of having an iPod touch, to give you a sense of how much I use this service. Since Google Reader’s redesign I’ve tried a few other RSS services, such as Feed.ly, but haven’t found anything I like better.
Pinterest. I used to have a folder on my laptop for assorted visuals I found appealing – design and craft ideas, photos of places I want to visit, cute animals, etc. Pinterest basically serves this same function, but web-based, so I can pin and access the images from anywhere, and it doesn’t take up hard drive space. Pinterest can preserve both images and links, and saving things here doesn’t feel as cluttered as keeping articles in Google Reader forever. As far as discovery goes, a lot of what other people pin seems to involve wedding planning (in which I have negative interest), crockpot recipes (don’t own one) or insipid “inspirational” messages (mostly Christian or fat-shaming), so I often pass on browsing other people’s pins. There’s a convenient “pinmarklet” button for my browser bookmark toolbar that makes saving quick and convenient, though I don’t like having to enter a description for everything I pin.
Delicious. Feels bloated and inconsistent since being acquired by AVOS. I like that there’s more image/visual support, and the interface is clean and straightforward. Good integration with Chrome and Firefox. But th big advantage of delicious for me, at least previously, was the ability to access the bookmarks from anywhere. A video I can’t watch at work can be bookmarked to watch at home, for example. But now, links I delete at home won’t get deleted at work, and my user preferences are similarly not uniform across multiple computers. I’m considering a switch to Diigo at this point, though I don’t know anybody who uses it currently to interrogate about it.