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January 15, 2005

Tools I'm catching up on

There are taxonomies that divide users of technology into innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards. There have been times when I've been in the innovator category, but perhaps lately I've fallen back into the early adopter category. Or maybe I've always been there. Can't tell.

I've just got around to a few tools that a number of folks have mentioned before, namely del.icio.us and Bloglines. I've looked at Flickr, but I have my own picture site that doesn't come with bandwidth upload restrictions, so I haven't really tried that one yet.

Read on ...

I've had a weblog now for nearly 3 years, starting back with Radio Userland (RU) and now on Movable Type. Early on, I used RU's aggregator feature to read other blogs. When I gave up on RU, I played around with a couple of other aggregators, but never find anything I really liked. So after a time, I gave up on following other blogs.

Bloglines has brought me back into the fold. Its chief advantage is the most obvious one: I can use it on any computer, home, work, wherever. That's not trivial; I switch between 3-5 different computers, so always having Bloglines up-to-date on what I've seen is very useful.

And just important, the user interface is good enough, and it works well with Firefox. The Bloglines toolkit makes it easy to both add new blogs to Bloglines, and to quickly check in on what's new in my list of blogs.

del.icio.us is a little harder to peg. At the surface level, it's just a way of storing browser bookmarks in public, but that misses what makes it useful. It's also a social tool in that you can quickly discover what everyone is bookmarking, and in that you can see what your friends are seeing (Ed Vielmetti keeps up with good stuff). The most interesting aspect of del.icio.us is its use of tags. Ordinary browser bookmarks allow you to have one way of getting to the bookmark - you get to choose a title for the bookmark. del.icio.us allows you to have titles and descriptions, but also allows you to tag a URL with as many keywords as you want. Between that and the descriptions you can attach to URLs, del.icio.us lets you get to stuff you may want to see again – as opposed to bookmarks, which are best for things you want to get to over and over.

I can’t say much about flicker. It, too, uses tags on pictures, but I haven’t seen enough yet to make me start uploading pictures. And the other thing that’s really been keeping me out is that flicker imposes bandwidth restrictions on customers who don’t pay – that’s not unreasonable, but it means I have to make choices about what I upload; uploading full-size versions of pictures is out. What I’d like is to have flicker point my at my picture site for the full-size versions.