Reintroducing Newstangle, or How I learned to stop worrying and love my blog

Let’s skip the usual rambling, expository introduction and get to the lists:

  1. Delicious is dying. Or it isn’t. Or it is. Depends on who you ask, I suppose.
  2. I like saving and tagging and sharing links. You may have noticed I worked for a company that made some tools to do that sort of thing.
  3. I’m having a hard time trusting any of the also-ran social bookmarking sites with my data.
  4. For a long time now, I’ve had intentions to implement some form of WordPress “Asides” on my blog, to use in conjunction with the “Press This” bookmarklet for light linkblogging.

The desired outcome:

  1. A handsome little way to display Asides on my blog. For the sake of this discussion, let’s just call all the “Asides” posts something like “Newstangle.”
  2. All of my Delicious links, minus some outdated stuff, imported to WordPress as posts with their tags intact.
  3. Some light repair and merging of tags.
  4. A page displaying all my Newstangle posts and tags in some sort of useful, browsable way.
  5. Perhaps a search box just for the Newstangle content.
  6. To send out automatic-ish tweets when I post a Newstangle link that lead to the link in question, and not my blog post about it.
  7. To point Newstangle.com at the Newstangle links over here.

So far: I’m done with steps 1, 2, 3, and 7. Halfway done with 4, really.

Not bad for an over-coffee-and-breakfast project, right?

Ingredients:

  • AsideShop for a pretty easy way to implement a version of Asides without messing around with templates. I’m a sucker for any plugin that lets me use tokens like %post_permalink% with my own markup, rather than getting too deep into PHP copy/paste missions.
  • The particular Delicious to WordPress Importer I used was an updated version of this one, and predated this other one, which even comes with a handy theme to make it more like Delicious. Your mileage will definitely vary.
  • Batch Cat to help clean up some of the damage I did importing more than 2,500 links to my default post category, which I actually use.
  • Tag Managing Thing, an oldie-but-a-goodie plugin for editing, merging, and deleting post tags.
  • And when I get around to adding some interesting tag listing ont he Newstangle category page, I might use some variation of the cool back-of-the-book index-style Archives template that came with my new Basic Maths theme.

It remains to be seen, of course, if I can stick with it, posting short links and notes on a regular basis, mixing in longer posts — perhaps about something other than this blog at some point — more frequently than I have of late.

Now then. What’s all this I hear about Flickr?

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)

reader

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.

Twitter

twitter

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 bit.ly or (in a recent experiment to compare data presentation) tr.im.

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.

Delicious

delicious

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.

Publish2

p2lj

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

ff

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?”

Meta notes: Where to find my microchunks

If you get the feeling I haven’t been writing here as much lately, you’re right.

But I’m still out here, reading everything I can get my hands on and throwing up links left and right.  They’re just not always where you’re expecting them, eh?

So then, if the meager postings to Delicious you find on the right sidebar and in the usual spot aren’t satisfying your link-devouring needs, take a glance at my shared Google Reader thingie from time to time (three-month-old + keyboard shortcuts = happiness).  Those also show up on my Facebook profile, along with just about everything else I do in the known online universe.

And yes, you can easily find me on Twitter and/or Pownce, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Site notes

A couple tweaks here lately. I’ve added a feed in the sidebar that pulls in everything I post to my del.icio.us account, and I’m using it to post links to useful and timely things like news stories about the McClatchy/Knight Ridder sale process, webcasts of cool conferences, and blog posts about how to save the world with CSS.

So feel free to click through to the site every now and then, or, of course, you can subscribe to my delicious RSS feed if you’re into that sort of thing.

Also new in the sidebar is a blogroll of about 60 sources. I’ve removed the big giant page full of links and plugged this in instead, so that you don’t need to scroll through lots of goofy Technorati searches and craigslist feeds to find the good stuff. So check it out on the right side of the page.