How I share: A tour of my personal linking behavior

Things you may have noticed about me in recent days, weeks, months, or years:

  1. I don’t write blog posts as often as I used to.
  2. I share links all over the place, and I have for a long time now.
  3. I have a new job that involves a lot of thinking about best practices for journalists who link to content they don’t produce themselves.

With those three things as givens, what follows is an exploration of how I share links.  If I ramble off on some tangent, feel free to jump in and stop me. [Sidenote: You can’t jump in.  Is there a WordPress plugin for paragraph-by-paragraph commenting yet?]

Let’s start with a list of links to all the places I share lists of links, and a brief explanation of what sort of links I share there:

Google Reader (shared items)


I subscribe to hundreds of RSS feeds and scan, peruse, pore over, or otherwise read and digest blog posts, search results, news, video, photos, and sundry other hunks of content using Google Reader.  I do this using a Web browser (Firefox, most of the time) or an iPhone.  If I’m using my phone, I’ll often hit the “Share” link, but rarely “Share with note,” which means when I’m on the move, I’m not able to add much value to the links I share.  Sometimes, I add commentary to the shared link later, using FriendFeed.  Those of you who subscribe to my Shared Items feed or who are my friends in Google Reader itself aren’t seeing that commentary, but it shows up on FriendFeed, which in turn shows up in the sidebar of my blog.

Anything I read most of in Google Reader, or that I click through to read the comments on, or comment on, or think is worth sharing, not knowing if everyone else is reading the same things I am, I share.



As of this writing, more than 2200 people follow me on Twitter.  That’s a lot more than read my blog’s RSS feed, far more than follow me on FriendFeed, and way more than the few people that see my Google Reader shared links in their own reader.  But it’s very temporary.  A link on Twitter has a short half-life.  It’s not a way to permanently save anything, but it is a way to get news out quickly.  If I think something is useful enough right now at this second, or if I think it’s good enough to pass along to 2200+ people without more than 100 characters of commentary, off it goes, URL shortened by or (in a recent experiment to compare data presentation)

I also retweet links from people I follow, especially if I think their base of followers and mine are especially divergent, if it’s an urgent call to action, if their commentary was particular funny, or if I really want to share the link, but I’m mobile, and hitting the RT button in Twitterfon is the easiest way to get the job done.



When I started using Delicious, the first thing I did was post my own content there, tagging it in the hopes that someone would be subscribed to the tag, and would click through on my post.  I didn’t really get it.  Then, for a long time, I used Delicious as a linkblog, saving whatever I found interesting from around the Web, tagging it, and not really worrying about whether the content was temporary, immediately useful, or something to save for reference.

Now, my Delicious stream is pretty sparse, populated pretty exclusively by pages that I want to save for reference on a certain topic.  When it’s time to screw around with Django, I bang on my Django links in Delicious.



Of course, my new job at Publish2 is one of the reasons I’m spending time thinking about my admittedly edge-case-ish linking behavior.  Right now, I’m using Publish2 to get a feel for the UI of the bookmarklet, to capture my own feedback as a user, and to pass along links to other places while sharing them in the collaborative space in the newswire at the Publish2 site and the feeds it builds for every tag.  You can find my Publish2 links in the sidebar of my blog, and on FriendFeed.  What you might not know is that I’ve been routing some to Twitter, too, using one of the cooler features of the bookmarklet.  (Of course, if you’re interested in how your newsroom can use Publish2 to do the same, just ask me.)

In fully functioning blog posts, every now and then.

Like what you’re reading.  I’ve been writing pretty sparingly on my own blog lately, but over the last four years it’s been a handy place to post thoughts both short and long when I see something elsewhere that inspires, offends, or otherwise jerks me into action.



FriendFeed serves a variety of purposes for my linking habit.

First, it’s a catchall for everything I share online.  Twitter, Google Reader, Delicious, Publish2, my blog, my posts on IdeaLab, my Flickr photos, my favorite YouTube videos, Disqus comments, my Netflix queue — all of this shows up in my stream at FriendFeed and gets routed to the sidebar of my blog.  So everything I share online flows through my blog’s pages, providing complementary content, links, and proof of my existence in the long temporal gaps between posts.

The second thing I use FriendFeed for is to directly share links.  I end up using FriendFeed to share links that I find through Twitter, or links to full posts from partial text feeds (boo!) in Google Reader, or links to things I click on while reading posts in Google Reader, and it turns out the linked item is more interesting than the post that brought me there, and if you’re lucky I’ll remember how I got there and throw a “via” in. 

Wild card: If something I’m reading, anywhere, has an interesting image I want to share, I’ll use FriendFeed for that link so I can plant the picture in my blog’s sidebar.

There’s a third, social, function to FriendFeed, and that happens directly on the site or on my iPhone.  It’s me, mashing the “like” button on a regular basis.  That’s not exactly a way to share links, and neither is adding comments on other people’s links, but it’s something I do there.

So what?

So, nothing.  Just thought I’d share.  This is the part where I say, “How do you share?”

13 thoughts on “How I share: A tour of my personal linking behavior”

  1. If you had paragraph by paragraph commenting enabled, I would’ve responded at the top 🙂 News Mixer is supposed to be releasing a WordPress version, but that’s the closest I’ve seen to anything like that. Dave Winer has graf by graf hyperlinks too that I’m envious of.


  2. I think I use Twitter like you use Friendfeed. Pretty much everything I do gets somehow fed through my Twitter stream, either automatically or by hand. I’m actually up to four separate twitter accounts connected to different projects.

    I have half a post written (must stop ignoring my own blog) on this same subject, specifically looking at how I’ve used Delicious and Publish2.

    Short version: Delicious is ideal for saving things. Publish2 is best suited for sharing links.


  3. I also use Google Reader’s shared items via FriendFeed to post to Twitter. Sometimes there are stories I want to share, but I don’t want their headlines showing up in my Twitter feed as they’ve been written. I’ve found that I can use Google Reader to share the link in my own words just by changing the headline in the “Share with note” pop up window. Even after typing a new headline, FriendFeed still automatically adds the shortened link to the end. I haven’t ever even added a note.


  4. My Delicious bookmarks are swarmed with random things I like online. I’ve tried paring it down and fixing my farked tags, but I keep falling into the same behavior – saving EVERYTHING.

    I rarely share things on Google Reader, because most of my friends there are reading most of the same things.

    Twitter: random links, thoughts, conversations. My Twitter posts go through to Facebook, which I know annoys some people, and I’m thinking about how to change that behavior.

    I’ve just signed up for FriendFeed. I’m not sure how I want to use it other than a “lifestream.”

    As for Publish2 – again, I have an account, I’ve shared some links, but I’m just not sure how to incorporate it into my other habits. I also don’t want to overwhelm people who follow me in multiple places with the same content.

    So answer me this, Ryan, how do you manage all the different collecting/sharing/socializing accounts without duplicating too much content?


  5. I use Publish2 as well in conjunctyion with Twitter. I’ve also imported my Publish2 feed into Google Reader, but you cannot automatically set that feed to ‘share with others’. would be cool if Publish2 is gonna solve that problem…


  6. @Bas – Hi! Glad you’re using Publish2 to push your links out to Twitter. I just e-mailed you to ask more about your Google Reader question — not sure I followed it here.

    @Megan – Ah, duplicate content. I don’t think about it too much; FriendFeed hides a lot of the dupes, so the widget on my blog doesn’t contain too much superfluous stuff. And elsewhere, I like to think I’m sharing for different “audiences” to put it one way. So there isn’t a lot of conscious management on my end, although I really do use these different services for these different purposes. I don’t mind if something temporary/immediate that I tweet never makes it into my Delicious bookmarks.


  7. @Adam – If you look closely at the image I used in this post from Delicious, you’ll see that I did the same thing while I wrote this post. 🙂


  8. I use Google Reader as a place to share a quick note on an item from my feeds. Lots of fluff.

    I’ll post a link on Twitter if I think it’s a particularly important or interesting item that might lead to a conversation.

    Delicious is where I save things I’ll want to reference in the future.

    I use Tumblr and its bookmarklet to save interesting food-related links which run in the sidebar of my food blog. I never expect to revisit them. (Tumblr is an interesting Twitter/blog hybrid that hasn’t really been taken up by journalists but is the perfect platform for link blogs such as Romenesko.)

    Links that are just interesting or funny and I want people to see but don’t want to pester my Twitter followers with I share on Facebook.

    I stopped using Publish2 because its bookmarklet it kept forgetting my username and password to save items to Delicious and Twitter early on. Also, I just didn’t understand the service’s value yet. I still haven’t figured out how to make it part of my habits.

    Friendfeed just collects everything.


  9. Look, I understand if you feel guilty that you’re not serving your blog audience any more, and that you want us to start following you on all of these other services so you don’t feel the blog pinch. That’s fine.

    //unsuccessful troll is unsuccessful 😉

    Seriously, though, I’m all over the Sholin bandwagon; subscribed to your blog, receiving shared stuff on Google Reader & on NYT, tweeting. Even on Flickr 😀

    Friendfeed feels like a cheap aggregator, and I think if I tried to start a conversation on it, my words would get lost in all of the stuff being collected there.

    Tumblr always springs to mind as a great place for a throw-away blog, but the information is too tightly contained. It’d be better for my mother, who is naive to RSS & spam comments.


  10. I use the Tweetie bookmarklet on my iPod to share links via Twitter, and include @tagthis on the end so it is bookmarked on my Delicious account at the same time with all the words as tags (or just those beginning with a #).


    1. @Paul – You just inspired me to try a couple bookmarklets on my iPhone.

      I don’t use Safari on my laptop for much, so it was easy to surf around, grab bookmarklets for a few things (FriendFeed,, Publish2) and sync that with my iPhone’s browser.

      If I had my druthers, these bookmarklets would know that I’m on an iPhone and deliver a more app-like interface, but this is a great start.


  11. I use the Delicious’ bookmarklet to save links to anything I might possibly want to find in the future. Everything is tagged to make it easy to find later. On the other side of that coin, I found this blog post via my Delicious “network,” to which you were added many moons ago. I use Delicious for link discovery as well as personal storage.

    I share links, usually about journalism and/or linking, on Twitter. Oftentimes I use Tweetlater to schedule those tweets to post throughout the day while I’m at work. All tweets are shortened with so that I can track the kinds of posts that my followers are interested in.

    I use the Friendfeed and Facebook bookmarklets to share selcet links on those sites. The ff bookmarklet makes it easy for me to add an image to the ff post.


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