The Future of Social Bookmarking Tools

December 27, 2010 § Leave a comment

A couple of weeks ago, some news was leaked that Yahoo would be ‘sunsetting’ Delicious, the social bookmarking site that they acquired two years ago. According to Yahoo, this was all a mistake, and that they plan to sell Delicious, not simply shut it down.

Nevertheless, the misinformation was met with panic, anger, and confusion, causing users to quickly export their files and try to find alternatives. So, like many others, I made my recommendation to friends for Pinboard, which I have been using for the past several months. Apparently I wasn’t alone in making that recommendation, and the poor folks at Pinboard were all but overwhelmed at the flood of new users. If you look at their blog, you can read about what’s been going on over there.

When Magnolia first crashed in 2009, many users lost some important information. Lucky for me I had linked my RSS feed there with Google Reader and FriendFeed, so I had a back up of everything. I hadn’t linked my accounts for that purpose, but it just happened to work out. After that, I did create an account at Delicious because it was the best alternative, and because I rely so heavily on my bookmarks and tags, I started regularly backing everything up.

Pinboard touts itself as an “anti-social” bookmarking site, which is kind of cute. And it isn’t truly anti-social in that you can still subscribe (though not easily) to other people’s links.I find it functional, simple, easy to use, and I like that you can link Google Reader, Instapaper and Twitter Favorites there, too. All of that integration makes for a rather busy feed, but that’s what tags are for.

One of the things that I liked best about Magnolia was the ability to connect with people to easily see what links people are saving. You could create groups so that users with like interests could easily share resources. I made connections there that I still keep on Twitter and Facebook, and I’m happy to keep up with people there. The link and resource sharing is just not the same, however.

So, with the demise of Magnolia, and the potential demise of Delicious, it makes me wonder about the future of social bookmarking, or other cloud-based sources that so many of us use on a daily basis. I guess the lesson hear for all of us is to back things up. Just as in research, you should always have alternative or additional resources.

I welcome connecting on Pinboard (and elsewhere, of course). If you’re there, give me a follow, and I’ll follow you back!

Ma.gnolia Is Back!

September 26, 2009 § Leave a comment

I’m thrilled, I tell you, thrilled! My favorite social bookmarking site is back! After a catastrophic data corruption last year, like a phoenix rising from the flames, Ma.gnolia has relaunched to much fan fare. At least by me.

Okay, perhaps that is a little melodramatic, however, I don’t feel that I can understate just how cool this site is. Ma.gnolia was the equivalent of my gateway drug, if you will, into the world of social networking. I made my earliest connections with, at the time, complete strangers, people who I have kept up with on Twitter and Facebook in places like Florida, Texas, New York, Vancouver and Australia. It all started for me on Ma.gnolia.

Oversharer that I am, life just hasn’t been the same since Ma.gnolia died. I missed the efficient information sharing, the groups where people with shared interests could jointly create a useful reference point. I have already uploaded all of my old bookmarks that I have been tracking in Delicious, connected with a few of my old followers there, and joined some groups that are underway there. I was pleased to see that someone already had created a group for Chicago links.

Interesting thing now is that there is an opportunity to keep the spammers out more efficiently. In order to join, you must jump through a few more hoops to prove that you’re human. Hopefully, this will keep the quality and caliber of the users high. It bodes well.

Ma.gnolia is useful, facilitates new relationships, and is pleasing to the eye. I have high hopes that the vibrant community will rebuild again.

Well done, Larry!

Appreciation and Hope for Ma.gnolia

February 8, 2009 § 2 Comments

As all Ma.gnolia users know, the wonderful social bookmarking site suffered a “catastrophic data loss” on January 30th. The first thing I thought of when I first learned this was “poor Larry!” Larry Halff, the founder of Ma.gnolia is a friend of mine from college, and Ma.gnolia is his life’s work, a real labor of love. I’m sure that his heart was breaking.

At first I assumed that like so many others, I had lost most of my bookmarks. Fortunately, between FriendFeed and my experiment with Delicious last summer, I have all of my bookmarks, and I have only lost tags and notes from everything I have saved since July of 2008.

Lesson learned here: Keep your own data backups. I’m going to continue to use Delicious even after Ma.gnolia relaunches (I’m optimistic that it will), just so that I know my bookmarks are saved somewhere else, and I will also do a periodic download for my own files.

I know that there are many users out there who are going to have trust issues when it is relaunched. I am confident that Larry is learning some hard lessons that he will carry forward into the Ma.gnolia 2.0, and he will take all precautions to ensure that this will never happen again. I am optimistic and hopeful for the return of Ma.gnolia.

Even at the moment I believed that my bookmarks were lost for ever, I was hoping for the rebirth of Ma.gnolia. While I am grateful that I have an alternative in Delicious to track my bookmarks, right now I am really missing the lovely design of the social networking features that are Ma.gnolia’s greatest strength. I was following and corresponding with some very interesting people with eclectic interests that were reflected in their saved bookmarks. The groups that I was following introduced me to even more people, resources, and ideas.

In addition to discovering interesting new websites and people, I learned many new things there, including Getting Things Done, which is an organizational and productivity method that I now employ, and the concept of tagging as an emerging method of information management, and the inspiring community of activists and professionals that are using social networking tools to foment positive social change, which is the theme of this blog.  Ma.gnolia opened a door for me to a world of resources and people who are promoting sustainable living, citizen journalism, civil rights, and getting people together for actions and projects, or just to have fun. I know that I likely would have encountered much of this without social networking tools, but it was facilitated with greater efficiency and speed.

I credit Larry and Ma.gnolia with my introduction to this world. I already had a penchant for it, but for me, it was Ma.gnolia that really clicked and made me appreciate how valuable these tools are for gathering and sharing information. Through Ma.gnolia, I was emboldened to try Facebook and Twitter among others, which have since become invaluable to me.

I have been using social networking tools since 2006. In 2007 I moved from the Bay Area to Chicago, and it immediately became apparent to me how useful these tools would be for me to keep in touch with old friends, make new ones, and even find long-lost friends I never thought I would hear from again. It has been a real gift, and it is only getting better as more and more friends and colleagues are starting to use them.

I wish Larry and his colleagues the very best, and I am anxiously awaiting the rebirth of Ma.gnolia!

Oversharing with Twitter and RSS

November 28, 2008 § 2 Comments

Last night I stayed up way too late playing with RSS feeds. Perhaps I’m a little slow on the uptake (not unusual for me), but I discovered a couple of new tools that allow me to use RSS technology to push out information to my Twitter followers and blog readers. And here I thought all the time that RSS feeds are a way for me only to collect information. Now I know RSS can be used as a way to share. This is a very exciting realization for me.

Yesterday, I discovered Twitterfeed, which allows you to set up RSS activity to feed into your Twitter feed. You can set up feeds from your blogs, your link sharing sites, including Facebook posts and tools like Ma.gnolia or Delicious, and probably some other sources that I haven’t thought of.

As a chronic oversharer (in more of a reference librarian kind of way, not in a TMI way), I immediately saw the usefulness. So I have set up four feeds; one from each of my blogs so that each time I make a new post it will automatically send out a tweet; one from my Facebook Posted Items feed; and another from my Ma.gnolia feed with all of the links that I tag with “reference”. I’m thinking about setting up a special feed there especially for Twitter link sharing. Possibly more on that later.

Hopefully, my followers will find this interesting and not annoying. These tools will no doubt increase my follow cost. This is a concept I find a little paradoxical. I mean, you follow people on Twitter because you’re interested in what they’re tweeting, right? I’m not saying more is better, but Twitter is an information sharing tool. Anyway, I hope that these feeds don’t become obnoxious.

I also figured out how to use some RSS widgets through my WordPress blogs. I set up my Twitter feed to update in the sidebars (that was kind of a “duh” moment for me), and I also set up some Ma.gnolia link feeds to update there. If you look to the right below the Meebo box, you will see my latest Ma.gnolia links tagged with “Social Change” and from my “Fundraising and Philanthropy” and “Development Research” groups.

These tools for me are just like Christmas; I find joy in receiving and sharing the gifts of information technology.

My Article in Searcher Magazine

November 8, 2008 § Leave a comment

I’m published! W00t!

I worked on an article about nonprofit technology over the summer, and it was just published in this month’s Searcher Magazine. Searcher is a great industry rag for database and information professionals. I devour every issue when it arrives.

The full article is only available in print or if you pay for it online. Your local library might have access to it through its electronic resources. The list of online resources that I cite is available here, if you want to check that out.

Thanks to everyone who helped out, particularly to: Marnie Webb from TechSoup, Larry Halff from Ma.gnolia, and the folks at Community Voice Mail who gave me the tour of their office on Second Life.

I’m really happy to promote all of the organiziations and the movement for social change on the Internet in my own small way.

Magnolia Featured Linker

July 30, 2008 § Leave a comment

I’m such a geek and so excited that my favorite social bookmarking site has invited me to be a featured linker. My friend, Larry, is the founder of Magnolia, and he emailed me last week to see if I was interested. I was thrilled!

It may be a little thing, but I truly love this gem of a web tool. I have virtually met such nice and intelligent people there, discovered some very interesting links, and have been able to share a few of my own. I am happy to evangelize and spread the word about Magnolia. And if being a featured linker introduces me to yet more interesting folks, lucky me!

So, for the uninitiated, check it out, add me as a contact if you like, join some groups and discussions, and see what remarkable resources you find there!

Twitter: My New Obsession

May 28, 2008 § Leave a comment

So, I’m finally figuring out what to do with Twitter and why it is so cool. I got into it because I’m writing an article about how people are using technology to create and promote social change movements, and I wanted to see for myself how people were using it.

I started following some of the contacts that I have made through Ma.gnolia, I’ve stumbled upon some friends and random acquaintances, and there are several business, nonprofits, and news agencies who are also Twittering.

The greatest example for me of Twitter’s usefulness, I think is NetSquared. This is an organization that helps nonprofits use technology, and they are hosting a conference in San Jose now. I have been able to keep up with what’s happening there with their tweets. They also have a FaceBook page and a website with conference updates, but the tweets are like a play-by-play, informing its followers of the most recent updates to the website of the flickr page.

People talk to each other, too, asking for or offering help and advice, sharing links and information, just putting themselves out there to see what comes back. Or sometimes just to share a little pearl of wisdom or a moment of inspiration, or a good joke.

So, Twitter has been around for a while now, and I’m not the first to review this tool. I have nothing to say here that is revolutionary to anyone who is already using it, but for me it is a revelation! I have a new way to communicate with people doing interesting things. In the couple of days that I’ve been using it, I’ve found some new blogs to read and come across some great resources. I may even have made a couple of friends. Who knows?

One thing that occurs to me as I write (and I’ve been thinking about this a lot regarding all social networking tools) is that the tools are only useful if lots of people use them. There are exceptions, of course, but isn’t the point of social networking to be social, to network? The tools that I use regularly are the ones that lots of other people use, like FaceBook and Ma.gnolia. I’m not saying that functionality isn’t important (and believe me, I’ve already learned the Twitter doesn’t always function), but Twitter just wasn’t interesting to me at all when I wasn’t connecting with anyone. Now that I am networking, it is my new obsession.

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