4 thoughts on My New Recommended Reading Lists

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  1. “This used to be where I kept track of items to include in my grab bag, but del.icio.us is a better solution for sharing links.”

    Amy: That’s interesting, ’cause I’ve been playing around with a transition to Furl away from del.icio.us. What’s leading you in the opposite direction?

    For me, it’s all come down to searchability. del.icio.us is woefully bad at finding stuff I’ve bookmarked, and Furl pretty much finds things effortlessly.

  2. Roger wrote, “I’ve been playing around with a transition to Furl away from del.icio.us. What’s leading you in the opposite direction?”

    Let me be clear — I’m definitely NOT abandoning Furl. In fact, I’m still Furling nearly everything that I also post to del.icio.us, since I like to keep my own personal copy. (Things always move and change online, after all). So I still get to take full advantage of Furl’s admittedly superior searchability, etc.

    The issue for me was with creating a recommended reading list. I don’t know if CONTENTIOUS readers realized it, but my “grab bag” articles actually required a fair amount of work. I don’t want to simply publish isolated links (which is what the WordPress bookmarklet feature allows). I prefer to group links topically. I think that context adds a lot of value.

    However, when I published grab bags I realized I was pigeonholing each linked item to one category. Often, multiple categories apply. So my grab-bag approach didn’t work well in that respect.

    So far, Furl doesn’t allow sub-categories. That is, in my voluminous contentious to-do Furl folder I couldn’t specify topics such as learning or marketing. If I were to start a Furl archive entirely dedicated to CONTENTIOUS (which I considered), I could have provided that level of detail and interconnectedness. Furl does offer topic-specific feeds, too.

    However, the more I thought about it, I prefer to have just one Furl archive and use that to collect everything online that interests me, not just in regard to CONTENTIOUS. The prospect of starting a new Furl archive just for CONTENTIOUS seemed more onerous than starting a new del.icio.us page.

    What clinched it for me was the community factor — I mean, my whole goal here is sharing, after all. It seems to me that del.icio.us is very prominent about displaying how many other people have bookmarked a particular link, and it makes it very easy for you to access those people’s own del.icio.us pages. That’s been a goldmine for me. I’ve learned a lot by following such breadcrumb trails.

    As for the sharing, well I can still make comments (although of very limited length) on each item. Also, readers can choose to subscribe to feeds for specific tags via del.icio.us, as well as find items easily via the web. Tagging, rather than straightforward text searching, is the strength of del.icio.us, in my opinion.

    Both Furl and del.icio.us can still use work on their user interfaces, of course.

    The bummer is that I just couldn’t keep up with doing the grab bags. They were popular, but they were too much work and I ended up falling too far behind. I prefer to keep up with the times when I can.

    Does that answer your question?

    – Amy Gahran
    Editor, CONTENTIOUS

  3. Thanks, Amy. I’ve just started working with Furl, and you had me wondering if there were some crucial flaw in it that I overlooked.

    “So far, Furl doesn’t allow sub-categories.”

    If you mean derived categories like “Blog+Friend”, I didn’t realize that. And having confirmed it, what a bummer. Not a deal-breaker for me, but a definite limitation.

    Y’know, I was scrolling back through your Furl archive, and I noticed you don’t ever seem to use multiple categories… every item is slotted into a single topic. Is there a reason you’re keeping things that way?

  4. I’ve imitated your idea. I just launched my own blog (This Might Be Miscellany) and have a “currently reading” booklist in the sidebar. After reading this post, I got acquainted with del.icio.us and duplicated my booklist there, using the same “books-reading” tag that you use. We appear to be the only two people on del.icio.us using that tag; visiting http://del.icio.us/tag/books-reading brings up our reading lists intertwingled.

    Del.icio.us seems to be very cool for maintaining public lists like that. I guess the next logical step for me would be to write a Perl script or something that will pull down the del.icio.us list and post it automatically in my blog sidebar, saving me duplication of effort.