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Saturday, June 4th, 2022

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I didn't play much Starcraft 2, but I have huge nostalgia for Starcraft 1. And this was an interesting watch.

6/4/2022 7:26 am | |
Tags: starcraft, real time strategy, gaming

Social Bookmarking Idea Dump

I have recently been spending a fair bit of time thinking about the concept of social bookmarking. In many ways it is a relic of an older version of the Internet, but I still think there might be something here as an idea. It got to the point a few weeks ago when I called my brother and excitedly spouted off to him about this idea in a ramble which I am sure was just this side of unhinged.

The seed of the idea is the now-defunct website "del.icio.us" and whether or not an evolution of that concept could work today. The site was a place for storing your bookmarks, tagging them, and in doing so making them findable by others etc. You could see what others had bookmarked and discover all sorts of interesting stuff.

This post is going to be a quasi-brain dump on the topic as I try to organize my thoughts on it. I am trying to go back and edit and make it cohesive, but no promises.

At the time of del.icio.us's heyday and the other players in "social bookmarking" the web looked very different. It was the heyday of blogs and the proliferation of publishing online. Mobile wasn't yet a power player for accessing the net. Video was still a relative oddity compared to its prevalence today. Social media was in its infancy. Safe to say a lot has changed in all vectors.

In many ways modern social media has supplanted social bookmarking, though more in the frame of social link sharing. To me, one of the things I loved about del.icio.us was going to someone's profile and looking through all their bookmarks and seeing what I could find. That use case isn't exactly straight forward for current social media. Yes, on Reddit, I can look through someone's profile to see what they've posted, but it isn't the same experience. Also, the motivations for posting to Reddit are different than having a bookmark. I post to Reddit show other people, not to save for my own reference, while making it available to others. I might tweet or retweet something out to go find later, but again, the primary reason is almost never for me to save for later. Facebook has the ability to save links, but that is just for you.

Interestingly, it's Reddit which makes me think this idea has a possibility. So often now, when I'm looking for a resource on a topic, I search Reddit first because I'm trying to use it like a social bookmarking site. But I think there is a layer of information lost through this because lots of things people research might not be something people post to Reddit because it's not interesting. There's also a possibility of need for privacy which seems counter to Reddit and this entire concept, but I think actually a shortlived Reddit competitor called Imzy had an interesting idea - they allowed you to create communities where all participants were anonymized. And I think there could be possibly a way where you could save a bookmark and expose it to the public or to a circle anonymously. There's definitely opportunities for abuse which would bear examination and management, but it seems like a useful seed of an idea.

Today, web browsers are much smarter than they were. Back then, they hadn't gotten on the "sync bookmarks" train and thus del.icio.us and other sites provided an easy way to ensure you had access to your bookmarks wherever you were and whatever computer you were on. Given that, a modern solution needs to integrate tightly with browsers as well as provide added benefits and features to make it worth using.

Another thing on this topic that I think about is an article I read from 2021 which talked about how the current youth are forcing academia to rethink lesson plans. Growing up with Google they have eschewed the "logical" practice of using folders to instead rely on search. I wonder how that impacts their use of bookmarks.

This is also a major challenge for the social bookmarking idea because if I don't bookmark something, the odds are very good that I will be able to find it later through the world of today's search. So, in some ways, this idea is competing with search engines - which are no slouch of opponents.

I think it's safe to say that a social bookmarking site which is just a repository of bookmarks which can be shared isn't going to be enough. It's going to need to integrate more with external sites but also things like smart tagging and doing everything possible to make bookmarks more useful.

In regards to the social aspect, I think I would approach it similar to Google's idea for Google+ with 'Circles.' You could group your friends into these groups, and also potentially open them to the public for people to join if they want. Then when you save something you would choose if it is was private, public, or select a group or groups to share it with.

Then there is the topic of discovery. Obviously part of this is the entire premise, social. So you'd discover stuff from those you connect with or follow. But more than that, this site would need to foster discovery. And that is where I think things like RSS feed readers, podcasts, integration with other social networks comes in.

After that comes the need to facilitate for discussion in some way. Folks need to be able to share their appreciation for a bookmark, feedback on it, share excerpts (akin to Kindle's highlight feature), etc. This naturally leads down the path Reddit went where initially it was just for posting links and eventually they enabled selfposts. It seems natural that this platform is going to need to go the same way to facilitate conversations in the groups.

It occurs to me this could also be a tool for learning.

With all of that, the site ends up a stone's throw from a full social network. All the building blocks are there.

The last question is the capitalistic one: how do I pay for this and maybe make money? Obviously advertising is the simplest and laziest answer, but I really don't want to go down that rabbit hole. And I don't want to have sponsored posts, etc. Which then leads to subscription, and that just furthers the massive need for it to be not just a fun distraction, but something of an indispensable tool for power users, to merit some sort of subscription.

One possibility is on the product angle. If I'm researching buying a new thing. I go read reviews and bookmark items on retailer websites. When viewing those bookmarks, you could potentially append partner codes (with full disclosure of course) but also do comparative shopping integrations of some sort, "You are interested in X, but this site has it for $25 cheaper."

Lastly, I don't want to replace the social networks. I can't imagine the headaches and struggle of doign something on that scale. Honestly, the dream is a "small community" feel that has a big enough audience to make the site useful and enjoyable, but also provides enough money to run the site and pay me for the work that goes into running it.

Maybe one day.

6/4/2022 10:02 am | |
Tags: social bookmarking, idea, brain dump

Uvalde school police Chief Pete Arredondo faces calls for accountability (texastribune.org)

6/4/2022 10:47 am | |
Tags: gun control, school shooting, us politics, texas

Everywhere basic income has been tried, in one map: Kenya; Iran; Alaska; Stockton, California; and more (vox.com)

6/4/2022 12:43 pm | |
Tags: universal basic income, economics, world politics, poverty

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