I thought I’d blog about this as a way to remember my path and as an informal report as I go along…more like a quest really.
A work colleague and I constantly share links, attachments and some discussion via email and IM, we are thinking of using a more appropriate method.
We are the smallest informal network you can get (2 people), we have very high abstraction (same wavelength, in tune), but at the same time we also have different interests, and most of all we trust each other.
These three elements make for a thriving network that is not too narrow in content, ie. we aren’t exactly the the same, we read some different feeds, one of us is a librarian, the other an enabling technologist…in the end our interests of learning 2.0 and KM 2.0 overlap into what is basically social computing.
Anyway, this post is a meandering path on my quest to find the right tool for the right purpose. I thought I’d share it as you may have the same need…any similar or related needs may also be found in this post, hence I included not only my final findings but rather my whole workings out (how I got there).
NOTE: this is what I like about sharing experiences, this post may not be for you, but a little section of it may hit home for something you need, in this regard I’m glad I shared how I got there, rather than just the end findings.
What we do now
Email is virtually instant, it’s in your face, as soon as I flick an email my friend receives it, it’s on his radar instantly. It’s also great to share attachments.
So far what we like is the ease of email; since there is only two of us, no-one is left out of the loop, but this could change in the future if we let others in to our informal network.
What we don’t like about email is it’s in a closed system, we’d like to access our content away from work, search it, browse it, etc…
Sometimes we send links via IM, especially if we want immediacy, so this is OK…IM is great for quick chats.
What ever we choose it has to be as easy and instant as email, to me I picture clicking a bookmarklet, clipping/entering text and done.
- add a description to link posts
- text posts
- add comments
- maybe all archived in one place
RSS Reader tag page (with RSS)
If I tag items from Google Reader with my friends name, he can then subscribe to the RSS feed of this tag in his IE feed reader.
He’d have to do the same for me, but he doesn’t use Google Reader.
Blogs (Link blogs) usually represent the interests of the author/clipper, but this is more a stream you make dedicated to someone else.
I can’t include a description in the item
What about external items (items you find outside Google Reader)
Can’t leave a comment on an item I publish in this tag page…this lacks the discussion we can do in email.
It’s so easy to clip an item in Google Reader, but it doesn’t meet the criteria.
External clip blog
Above explained how to share items from your RSS Reader, but what about items you find surfing the web.
These have a bookmarklet and offer description, comments, and RSS feeds, so either of these seems the ideal tool.
The only limitation here is that they are link blogs, what about sharing text posts…
Another option is an edge feed like publi.sh this is a blog admin service and an RSS feed…that’s all you get. You don’t get a HTML page, you only get your content in RSS.
You can post via the web form, a bookmarklet or email.
NOTE: The blog editor has a field for a URL link, but you can ignore it.
I can subscribe to my friends feed and he can subscribe to mine, but since there is not HTML page, how do we leave comments for discussion.
Splice and Re-syndicate
The great thing here is that any tags you use to label your blog posts via your edge feed, will come across in SuprGlu or MySyndicaat.
Only thing is you can’t tag posts in publi.sh, I know you can in the other mentioned clip blogs.
Using this method means we could browse content by: date, tags, search…
Instead of subscribing to each others edge feeds, we can both subscribe to the SuprGlu feed.
NOTE: Even though we may merge these 2 feeds into a blog, I can still subscribe to only my friends feed, as subscribing to the blog feed would update me about my own publishings as well.
From a comment perspective it’s easier to subscribe to the blog feed; when I want to comment on a story I click on the title, it takes me to the blog post and I leave a comment.
Naturally both of us subscribe to the comments feed of the blog.
But SuprGlu doesn’t have a comments feed, so instead of SuprGlu we may need to re-syndicate into a regular blog using a RSS splicing and RSS to HTML service like FeedDigest.
Unless anyone knows how to makes a comments feed for SuprGlu, we may be able to try a intelligent scraping tool like PonyFish.
Hang on, there are plenty of commenting tools you can add to your blog, plus a few more I haven’t blogged about yet.
The only thing email has over this now is immediacy, as feeds are polled…now when I share a link it won’t get to my friend within the minute, it might get to him in 30 mins.
What about posting directly (via a bookmarklet) into a multi-author blog…this is getting real simplified, yet effective.
You can get private blogs at: Blogger, Wordpress, TypePad
We will be updated by the RSS feed and the comments feed…and we could even use a service like SendMeRSS to get content in email, or FeedCrier for IM…and don’t forget about the magic 3: Rasasa, ZapTXT, and Blastfeed.
In saying this it’s still not as fast as email to email, as it’s still polling a feed, the only difference is converting and delivery of the content.
An alternative to SuprGlu is Tumblr (even has tags and private posts), and there is the option of 3rd party comments service via disqus.
You can either re-syndicate feeds (like SuprGlu) into Tumblr or publish posts.I posted on Tumblr when it was first released, but it has heaps of new features.
The beauty is that besides offering a feed, someone can add you as their friend to follow your posts. When you follow a friend your dashboard is no longer your own posts, it’s a stream of posts from you and your friends…kind of reminds me of Twitter. To see posts just from yourself or one person click on the avatar, and if you want to reblog a post, that is, clone someone elses post in your stream just hit the reblog button. The post will say how many people have reblogged it, with a link to each person’s post.
There are so many ways to add posts: web, bookmarklet, email (email an audio file, text, photo or video your phone), IM (also via IMified),
SMS, Jott (ring a number and leave a voicemail post)…there’s even a mobile web version of your Tumblr.
You can also choose to make a post private “this can be seen by just me.”
This is fantastic, but a Tumblr will represent me…some of these links I’m sharing aren’t of interest to me, I just share them as I know they are of interest to my friend.
So I need something that doesn’t publish into my own stream, we need a group stream…in comes Tumblr Channels.
Channels are the answer…this is a group stream, better known as a multi-author Tumblr. Much easier than a multi-author blog (or even a sharing the same Tumblr), you don’t need to share a log-in…Tumblr is very simple to set up and use.
The great thing is you have the same dashboard, you can either post it to your Tumblr or a channel…you can’t post it to both.
This seems like the most effective choice so far as it fits all the criteria, and is super easy to use. I like that I can have a personal Tumblr that represents me, and also post into a channel stream.
Have to test out comments and a comments feed.
NOTE: just out of interest, I wonder if you can re-syndicate feeds into a channel, like you can do with your own Tumblr.
I’d like to reblog my own posts into a channel.
- I can post in my Tumblr. OK
- I can reblog my post into a channel. NO
- I can post just in the channel. OK
We both have our own Tumblr account, and follow each other.
We subscribe to each others feeds or just keep Tumblr open to see new posts.
If I see a post in my friends Tumblr that I like I can reblog it to our channel, and vice versa.
But, this means my friend has to put up with seeing all my Tumblr posts, as it’s a personal stream.
Or maybe I will just use the channel for posts that have interest to both of us, but then I can’t have these posts in my own Tumblr.
One more thing, if I post by phone email, how do I choose a channel rather then my own Tumblr. I guess I can post into a channel using the mobile web version.
One of 2 options….
1. We can both have our own streams, and follow each other, if something is of interest to both of us, we can reblog each others posts into the channel stream, if something is of interest only to the friend we can post the item into the channel (this way it’s not in our own stream).
2. Or we can just post into the channel stream and that’s it…as some of our posts include questions to one another, like we use email.
It would it seem silly posting into my own Tumblr asking my friend a question, unless it had a Twitter like reply feature “@friend”.
So this brings up a whole new criteria, in that text posts may be directed at someone, like one-to-one email, so I’d rather these posts be in a group stream, rather than on a personal stream, as the post is directed at one person.
Here is the criteria again:
- add a description
- add comments
- maybe all archived in one place
- text posts
- one to one posts
So far I’m going for choice 2…this means TOO BAD for stuff I publish to the channel that I wish was also in my stream.
What are other micro-blogging choices…
- posts can be links, free text, whatever…
- great file sharing
(these are also duplicated as new posts in your stream)
- posts in your stream can be limited to just a set of friends
- posts can be private (one on one)
A post to a friend or set of friends has a list of recipients on the sidebar, this acts like email names in an email address bar.
So even though this isn’t a formal group, posts by others can be sent to the same people to keep everyone in the loop of the discussion, if they choose to reply in the original, this reply becomes a public default message anyway.
Only problem is that since it is not a formal group, there is no place that aggregates or distills a discussion, everyone has their own version of the discussion…
What I mean is, the initial discussion post lists all recipients, the only way to keep the conversation together is to reply to the post and all these recipients will receive it…technically people could create their own post as a reply and send it to the same people, but then in hindsight how do you group all these posts together as one conversation. The best idea is to keep the conversation as replies under the same initial post.
Pownce enables you to forward a post to someone, if this did happen and that person wanted in on the conversation, they could add a reply to the initial post, does this mean this person will now receive any followig replies, and are they now on the list of recipients.
Hmmm, now Pownce seems just as effective as Tumblr, just in another way…and now they also have a mobile version and also a Facebook app.
I really like that posts can be directed to just one person, just like email, or you can publish a post to the public just like blogging.
Only the public profile has a RSS feed, so this doesn’t help for being updated or notified about new content, and what if my friend doesn’t use IM or the desktop widget. All is not lost as there is email notification for absolutely everything.
Since Pownce has file sharing this isn’t an issue, but if we were to use other methods we would try the following.
It’s so easy to share attachments in email, maybe we could use a bookmarklet from a storage site like Box.net to generate a hotlink and then post that via our edge feeds, blog, or Tumblr, or better
still save attachments in Slideshare and Scribd, and post the links. Tumblr will host audio files, and video via Vimeo, not sure about documents yet.
Recap of tools
Share links with description
- edge feed (publi.sh or my.notify)
- clip blog (Siphs or Google Shared Stuff)
- bookmark tag page (del.icio.us or Faves)
- RSS reader tag page (Google Reader)
- micro blog (Tumblr or Pownce)
Share blog notes
- a bookmarklet for quick posts straight into a communal blog (Wordpress)
- edge feed (publi.sh or my.notify)
- micro blog (Tumblr or Pownce)
Re-Syndicate (SuprGlu or Tumblr)
Link sharing Social network or groups
This whole scenario can be seen from two perspectives:
- I publish and bookmark, it’s up to you to subscribe to my stream or tag stream
- I can even make tags for you to subscribe to
(tags are versatile as I can tag the item for myself and even add a tag with your name, this way we are both benefiting for hardly any additional sharing effort)
- from my reading stream I can send you links into your email or profile
(Not only do I have my own dashboard, but I also have to go to another place to share stuff)
- re-syndicate content into the group page
- I share links into the group page
- it’s possible to have your own profile within a group, making it a combination of both centric alternatives (Ning)
- but the fact you are joining a group takes you away from your individual centric dashboard
eg. I want only one blog, only one bookmark…I don’t want profiles of the same content format all over the place.
- individual centric; as you publish and bookmark stuff you could additionally choose to send it to a group page as well…this way we have best of both worlds
- this is a social network dynamic like Facebook
publish a note and tag people in your network
- this way you have published in your own blog, and have also notified a friend in your network (less fuss than email)
- this friend can leave comments, and always access an archive of notes I have tagged him on
- and it’s all private to your network
I don’t know why Facebook don’t have this functionality for Shared Items.
The issue with this is what if I don’t want anyone but myself and one other person to see this note.
What if I want to share an item, but I don’t want to publish it in my own profile…I guess I could send a private or public message.
The problem with all of this is I don’t read feeds in Facebook, and it’s blocked at my work anyway.
And the award for most suitable tool goes to…
All these tools are great and have different features for different purposes, after going through them all I think Pownce serves our situation and purpose the most:
- it is publishing, but at the same time it’s like sending emails
- we have replies for discussion
- it can be private
- we can send links or free text
- it has file attachments
- we can interact from a desktop widget, IM, and mobile web
- it has email notifications
It’s individual centric as I can use Pownce for personal publishing, but with the same tool I can post stuff to a set of friends or a private one-on-one, which enables me the option to personalise the message like email, rather than a published post.
And depending who looks at my profile, they will only see the posts they are meant to see.
A bookmarklet and an extension for Google Reader would make this tool perfect.
Other ways to share using a group site
In this quest I wanted sharing stuff to be an extension of my personal dashboard, I didn’t want so much to have to visit a group site for this special purpose.
If you still want email or profile sharing, but want to be able to do it from the web (ie. web to email, profile), and have an archive of what you have sent to people, then ShareThis is your answser.
Google Shared Stuff and other common ways to share
Siphs : link blogging and sharing
Link sharing with ShareThis and others
Streamy : Social Network RSS Reader, lifestreams and attention groups
Feed Each Other : the Facebook of RSS Readers
Google Reader, clipmarks and SuprGlu splice up
OK, I’m on holidays as of now…catch me on Twitter…by the time you read this long post, I’ll be back