When all I have left is my Fun folder, I win

If you don’t use Google Reader or Bloglines or some other feed reader, you can stop reading now.

OK, still here?

Months ago, after at least a couple years of just throwing all my feeds in Google Reader and sorting by newest, reading from the top down and marking all as read when I felt full of information or short on time, I went back to folders.

Back to the folders with the sort of labels I used when I first started with Bloglines in 2005, which predated my use of Newsgator, which predated the existence of the great and powerful, albeit Buzz-infected as of late, Google Reader.

Labels like “Media.” And “Technology.” Pretty vague stuff.

But they do the job — I check “Media” often to make sure I’m not missing anything, although the 2,000+ people I follow on Twitter rarely let news of that sort slip by them. And “Technology” is my dumping ground for TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and the like, which are more about Technology News than the technology itself. And I do enjoy those subscriptions, because it’s not the item that’s been retweeted 1,600 times that I’m interested in. (If it was, I’d subscribe to Mashable, eh?) But rather, it’s the activity on the edges of startups and green tech and Web applications that interest me most. So I keep the subscriptions, skip the obvious Google/Microsoft/Facebook/Twitter commodity news, and try to focus my attention on the smaller bits of detail emerging about newer companies, business models, and indeed, the hardware and software involved.

Work-related feeds are in another folder, and some stray ego searches and other research projects land in something I opaquely label “Searches,” the ingredients of which might change week-to-week as I move among projects, side projects, and side projects of side projects pretty freely.

But my favorite folder is labeled “Fun.”

Wait, don’t judge me yet.

It’s not for the Daily What or whatever your favorite Tumbly source of single-serving-site-of-the-day might be this season (I have Tumblr for that!), but it’s for the feeds full of ideas that I don’t need, but I want. Grown-ups with Ph.D.s like to use the word “serendipity” in this paragraph.

There’s the obvious, linkblogs that bring me more “Fun” fodder, like Fimoculous and Kottke, and slightly less obvious (or verbose) streams like Coudal’s Fresh Signals.

And there’s the Snarkmarkets of the world and the places they send me to, like HiloBrow, BldgBlog, and there’s This Recording, which I can’t remember how I found the first time.

There are the comics, guilty pleasure Dilbert and all, of course xkcd and indexed. These are probably the most “fun” things in the folder, rarely leading to anything but laughter and a vague desire for more geeky t-shirts.

There’s The Awl, which I’ve really been enjoying lately as a source of original amusement as well as links to Actual News About The World But Mostly New York City. Following NYC news 8.5 years after I moved out has a ring of Schadenfreude, to it, I know, but it feels like a window into some parallel universe I might have lived in had things happened differently in 2001.

So the game I play these days in Google Reader is twofold:

  1. What redundant feed about the news business can I unsubscribe to today?
  2. What feed about the weird possible presents and futures I haven’t fully explored can I subscribe to today?

When all I have left is my Fun folder, I win the game.

Here’s a Google Reader bundle with a selection of feeds from my Fun folder. I’m not going to give them all away in that bundle, but if you follow half the feeds in that bunch, they’ll lead you in the direction of more of whatever shiny niche catches your eye.


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 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.



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?”