Social media crisis of the day: Bookmarks or Feeds?

roller-coaster bookshelf

roller-coaster bookshelf

I’m trying to organize today’s pile of information, and I seem to be experiencing a little social media crisis. I have a pile of bookmarks I have dragged to my desktop — lots of great “things I want to read — when I get the chance.” It seems to start like this: I start (but by no means finish) reading a cool article such as this — Social Networking for Books: One Ring, or Loosely Joined? I’m intrigued by the chart — so of course I go to it on before I get to the end of the article (cool — cross-the-web analytics!); then of course I go to,, and Somehow or another, though I can’t for the life of me recount how, I also wind up on Nova Spivack’s blog and another blog I don’t even remember that referenced his blog, and I have a haphazard pile of links — AND of course I haven’t even read the first post fully yet — AND the irony is that some of these are about my library of actual physical books — MOST of which, I have not fully read.

I think: I’ll store these — so that I can get to them all later. I start bookmarking some of them in my Google Bookmarks account. I then realize some of these are ongoing chronicles and they instead belong in a reader I’d check regularly — so they should go into Google Reader. Then I run out of time altogether, and I’m back to square one until I get yet another post that’s interesting enough not to finish.

(stomp, stomp, stomp) I go with my big boots to my colleague, Rebecca, who is social-media-savvy. “What’s the difference between a bookmark and a feed anyway?” I mean — I know they’re different, but suddenly I insist that this is my current crisis.

She patiently explains that she mostly uses her feed reader now — and spends a couple of hours every morning digging through her reads and keeping up to date. I stalk away, secretly ashamed. I haven’t managed to keep up to date – either on my feed reader or my bookmarks.

Maybe I just need to realize that “when I get the chance” is never going to happen unless it happens now. Maybe it’s just about letting go — instead of collecting. Or maybe it’s about collecting and NOT letting go but getting better.

Or maybe therein again lies the Twitter rub: thanks to its “minimalism” (thanks again @timoreilly), it’s possible to keep up with the firehose — or is it really just skimming the surface?

For you? Is there a difference? How do YOU cope?

7 thoughts on “Social media crisis of the day: Bookmarks or Feeds?

  1. Wasn’t it you who just posted the link to Twine? I signed up to be on their beta tester list :)

    I use Diigo for bookmarks, which allows me to highlight and comment and share to groups or put in lists – also, I can save links as “unread” and then have it show me my unread links later. But… I also have Delicious and Ma.gnolia accounts… each have their advantages. Since Diigo allows me to simul-save to all three, I use Diigo as my main one and use the others more as back up or for the different networks/contacts that are available on each.

    I also have three book cataloging sites I use. My favorite is LibraryThing, but I also have Shelfari and am beta testing Readernaut. I haven’t tried GoodReads yet – um… maybe three is enough?

    I use Bloglines to catch up on feeds – or just to help sift through what looks interesting today. It keeps track of what is unread, too.

    As O’Reilly said, interoperability is key – I wouldn’t have joined some of the others if I hadn’t been able to import all my bookmarks or books from them. And with Diigo playing nice with Delicious and Ma.gnolia and others, it makes it easy to try them all out, using them each for different things.

    It isn’t possible even remotely to keep up with the information firehose! That’s why filtering tools (like tagging, contacts, groups, etc) are so useful.

    Thanks for the article – from one social media web2.0 junkie to another!! :)

  2. My plan works for me, but might not work for you — a lot of people respond with a horrified “how do you find the TIME!?” when I describe my method of information organization. Here goes:

    For the immediate and short-term pieces of information (posts/articles/etc that I plan on reading immediately or soon), I use Bloglines. I manage 214 feeds and keep them in pertinent Bloglines folders — personal, web design, non-profit, university, craft, etc. I read some folder’s contents regularly throughout the day, and some I’ll sit down and read when I’m reading to dig around and do some deep research, usually at my job. I tend not to exit Bloglines — just read the feeds from there.

    I use two buttons regularly. One is the “Keep New” — an option to “save” a post in Bloglines for later perusal. I try not to overuse it, and try to clear it out every few weeks.

    The other button is “Mark All Read” — it zaps all new posts (but keeps the saved ones) and I feel no compunction about using it often — in the parts of the internet in which I live, info tends to come around again if it’s good info, so eventually it’ll get to me if it should.

    For long-term storage sites/posts/articles/etc. that I want to keep around indefinitely, I use delicious (bookmarking system). I tag the hell out of the link and have set up tag bundles so that I really can find a link when I go looking for it. “christmas craft quilting retro mod” anyone?

    So how do I find the time? I guess I’ve successfully incorporated highly organized internet surfing into my job and my downtime. And also, I’m single, childless and live alone. There’s that, too.

  3. what a great comment!
    diigo! i was interested in that ever since i heard the venerable Mike Wesch mention he liked it. my honest lazy reason for using the (not-impressive-so-far) google solution: i eschew multiple logins. if *everything* were single-sign-on (maybe OpenID?) i’d choose what i want, but google was the lazy choice.
    wow — you’re super book-savvy too — funny is that i’d only been buzzing on GoodReads till recently.
    the combination of books and bookmarking in this thread is spinning me dizzy!

    thanks for the reassurance about (not)keeping up — maybe Twine + Diigo — or as you say, other interoperability!

    thanks again,

  4. becky! your points are well taken — most of all the one about the time. it seems like if you invest the time carefully up front (setting the categories, making folders, storing stuff and tagging it properly) it pays off later @ retrieval. that’s way important for anyone with kids or without. maybe i just haven’t made the proper initial investment.
    thanks for the TIME also to share this with me. that’s “the generosity of the internet” again and again – not to mention friends.

    as for “Mark All Read” — and using without impunity — that is a topic unto itself… the drama of letting go?

    thanks so much

  5. Yes! Front-end preparation seems to be a key factor — but really, just a 21st century version of setting up a filing system. Retrieval was the motivator — I need to grab like-minded links for the myriad of projects I’m always working on, so keywords are super-important to me. In fact, I could probably come up with a universal set of keywords to apply to bookmarks, to blog posts, to flickr, to life, etc. I could and probably should.

    And “Mark All Read” — wow, it could be the title to a novel! It’s only the comfort of being a fully immersed internet ephemera junkie for years that I can feel like I can let go. I really don’t feel that I’ll miss anything if I just DELETE from time to time. xoxo B

  6. all inspiring points again, Becky.

    if it’s about tools to help our minds retrieve what we need when we need it, well — our minds still go with us, and have ways of doing what they will. having not mastered meditation, i’m constantly retrieving things i don’t really _need_ to (some slow loops of my past, and thanks — a lot — by the way — @pandora_radio for the Sir Duke earworm yesterday…). i often wish i had that “Mark All Read” button in my mind. but for better or worse, in the brain, some bookmarks — and feeds — persist.

    maybe social bookmarking is really obsolete — more advanced tools have arrived such as Twine, that adds semantics to the mix, or these social book sites, that do for books what et al do for bookmarks. but then being ‘obsolete’ in that sense hardly means being supplanted. the adoption itself continues to fuel usefulness.

    and it strikes me that what Tim is talking about, though all about social book sites, is of course all about something deeper: the ring. what he says — that you tend to keep using the thing you used first — is true; just as one of the biggest things about twitter is its adoption, the more i and everybody else uses something, the more it can be useful. (now THAT’s a circle game).

    one thing i know: though there are a lot of nuts still to crack here, i’m pretty sure i would not want a machine replicating the storage and retrieval system in my brain (though i have been reading a lot of arthur c clarke lately) (as my new shelfari account would tell you).

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