Curating The Web


What do you do when you come across a really cool website/blog/video ? Your first reaction is probably to share it on Twitter or Facebook, but then what? It gets lost in the din of tweets and status updates, and since Twitter only archives 800 of your most recent tweets, it's probably lost forever. When you need to revisit that site, you're left hopelessly trying to nudge Google with a few keywords in that general direction.

Browser bookmarks were the answer to this problem until a few years ago, when nearly all of our web browsing took place on one device. Heck, even if most of your browsing takes place on desktop computers, you're in luck, since nearly all major web broswers are cross platform and let you synchronise your bookmarks and settings across different instances. But what do you do when your web browsing is spread across desktops and (different) mobile platforms? With the internet growing in size every single day, the ability to create a manage a list of curated or 'bookmarked' web pages, along with the ability to quickly and painlessley retrieve the exact page you're looking for is becoming really important.


The trouble isn't that there isn't a solution to this problem; it's that there are too many, and none do a very complete job. Nearly every web service will offer an option to mark an item as important, in one way or another. Twitter lets you favourite tweets, you can star important articles in Google Reader, and there are numerous services (Pocket, Instapaper and Readability) that let you mark stuff for later viewing. The problem is that none of them do exactly what I'm looking for. What I need is, is pretty simple. There will be this one big vessel in which I can dump all my favourite links, tag them for easy retrieval, and then have it sync across various devices. Is that really too much to ask?

To put in it points (I love writing in points), this is what the service should do:
  1. Easily add links to the list, through a browser extension (NOT a bookmarklet. I hate those, and my bookmark bar is nearly always hidden to save space) and on an Android device, using the Android 'share' menu.
  2. Add multiple tags to each link, to facilitate fast searching and retrieval.
  3. Sync between devices.
That's all. I don't need any fancy features. I don't want others to add to this list, neither do I want to be able to see what others are sharing. (In other words, I don't want it to be 'social'. I've got one too many services for that) I should be able to drop an item into this metaphorical pit, and be able to easily pull it up on my phone at a later time and read a nicely formatted version of the webpage. I'd also prefer it to be cloud-only service so that it doesn't bog down the browser.

This is what I've tried so far:

  1. Browser bookmarks – Firefox has great support for tags and syncs with Firefox on other computers and Android. But Firefox on Android leaves a lot to be desired, performance wise. Also I have a feeling (I could be wrong) that having too many Firefox bookmarks can slow down the time it takes Firefox to start up. Google Chrome has no support for tags (seriously, WTF?), so I'm not even going to pursue that.
  2. Google Bookmarks – It's a little known service by Google which comes really close to what I'm looking for. It has support for tags, really fast search and browser add-ons for Firefox and Chrome. But no mobile app. The third-party ones suck.
  3. A RIL service – Services like Readability and Pocket (I'm not including Instapaper as the Android app isn't free) perform this pretty well, but I've got a few gripes. One, these aren't intended for that purpose. They're supposed to be places where you add links for later, and once you've opened a page from your reading list, the link disappears from that list for good. Not exactly what I was looking for. Two, Readability doesn't have support for tags. (Why isn't this standard yet?) I have to admit, Pocket comes really close to what I want – it integrates with a dozen or so popular apps and has a really good Android app. The Firefox add-on is pretty neat too. (The one for Google Chrome, not so much. Doesn't show you a list of previously marked items)
  4. Conventional Bookmarking Services – There are many, many of them that aim to do more or less what I want, and I haven't tried all of them. However, far too many of them try really hard to include a 'social' aspect, and insist that I 'follow' people and 'discover' new content instead of using the service as a means of curating interesting stuff on the web. Klippt, Delicious and Pinterest all come under this category. Bit.ly's new avatar looks promising, but they don't have an Android app (yet?). Delicious is great on the desktop end, but not so good on the mobile front. What a load of #FirstWorldProblems!
So that's that. I'm sure there's stuff I haven't tried yet, and if you think I'm missing out on something, please leave a comment!


EDIT: I've settled on Delicious for now. It took a great deal of hunting around, but here is my configuration:

  • Imported all my bookmarks fro Chrome, Firefox and Google Bookmarks to populate my list. (Or is it a stack?)
  • I'm using the official add-on for Firefox, it integrates pretty well and remaps Ctrl-D to add a bookmark directly to Delicious.
  • For Google Chrome, I tried practically every single extension, but the one I settled on is one called 'Delicious'. The extension is VERY minimalistic, (it doesn't even have an icon in the Chrome Store). This is what you get when you click on it:



  • On Android, I found an app called Delicious Android (which is only for devices Android 4.0 and up) that looks great (meaning it follows the Holo design guidelines) and it does everything I need it to - I can add new links using the 'Share' option in any app (Hurray for Android!) and lets me add tags and notes to links.

One stellar feature of Delicious is the ability to automatically source the links from your Twitter / Facebook feed. So now everytime I tweet / favourite / RT a tweet with a link, the link gets saved to Delicious. The hashtags are saved as tags and the text of the tweet is saved as a note. Really neat!

I think I'm sorted.

6 comments

  1. Hey man how's life! Awesome blog! Didn't know you changed it.
    btw if you still want something that posts your twitter feed, I wrote a script today that displays tweets on your terminal :P

  2. Hey Chinmay!

    Life's pretty drab in PS dude, I'd much rather be on campus giving T1 with you guys :P

    I'd written a similar script a few months ago using the Tweepy API for Python. How did you write yours?

  3. I used tweepy as well. It's a bit more than that now, I'm generating QR codes, opening links and sorting tweets. I want to mine stuff now. Wish there was a way to bypass the 150/hr limit!

  4. Dude commenting on your blog is a pain! I'm signed into google, but I have to give my password. And then it gives me a captcha! I got 4 of them wrong :|
    Edit: make that 5

  5. Thanks for the post. I'm interested in the same thing. The new Delicious seems pretty good. I also think Evernote and Diigo do similar things. All the other services (Snip.it, Scoop.it, Bundlr, Annotary, Pinterest, and more) move too much into social.

  6. Thanks you give me this excellent information.I will bookmark this post for my further updates.Nice post.Keep it up....

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