Saturday, April 28, 2012

Microblogging 2012 - Pinboard?

Once every few days to weeks I write a short essay, from a few paragraphs to a few "pages" (remember the page?).  Every few minutes to hours I share a link and a comment from a few words to a pair of paragraphs.

Both forms of writing almost always involve links; they point to a linkable entity.

I have to call the first blogging and the second microblogging because I can't escape the b-word (is there a language in which the name is less painful?).

Whatever the format, I do the writing for same reasons. It's primarily a way for me to learn, think, and remember. I do it publicly because I have the hive-mind communicator gene-set. I want to share the ideas and things that I like.

I want to share -- but sharing has a very important side-effect. Sharing enables indexing.

My extended memory relies on Google Custom Search (oh Google, why has thou forsaken me? I forget too much without you.) Everything I share has an entry in a Custom Search Engine I use several times a day, though recently the embedded ads have become oppressive.

I do the blogging using Google Blogger. I wanted to move to WordPress, but I decided the quality and security issues of an independent WordPress site were too severe for me; I don't have the time. I'm now evaluating a paid account on

The micro-blogging is a bigger problem. I used to use Google Reader Share - one of the lesser known but most beloved products of the days when Google was Anakin. Reader Share died when Google became you-know-what.

Twitter is too constraining and I don't trust Tumblr. After trying several options I settled on Pinboard because of its business model (I pay), sharing/export options, RSS support and, especially, and Instapaper integration. I use IFTTT to republish my Pinboard 's' stream to my Twitter stream, and I'm now experimenting with using IFTTT to repost them to an archival and indexable WordPress or Blogger repository.

The indexable bit is a Pinboard problem. Pinboard's developer does not love microblogging; he wants to have a bookmarking service. Pinboard posts are NOINDEX by design.

Pinboard has other microblogging limitations. I use tags to create routable streams of shared information. Almost all are part of my primary share stream, but some are special sub-streams for my colleagues or for my own reference and actions. Because of the way works many of these are single character tags. This isn't how Pinboard is supposed to work; tags are supposed to be global - not personal. I can't, for example, show only my own tags in the Pinboard UI.

Lastly Pinboard isn't as reliable as Reader Share was - though almost nothing is. Sometimes, when I post, hangs waiting for Pinboard to respond. (The hanging behavior is a design flaw).

I'd be delighted if Maciej Ceglowsk's were more of a microblogging platform. I wish I could see only my own tags for example. Above all, I wish Pinboard included an option to use the Atom publishing protocol to create an indexable and persistent post on a blog. I'd double the amount I pay Maciej for that feature.

I don't hold out too much hope. Pinboard is known to geeks, but it's not a big revenue stream. In a crazy world where a small photo sharing site can be worth a billion dollars, Pinboard is almost an anachronism...

... I wrote Pinboard in the spring of 2009 as a personal project, partly out of frustration with a redesign of Delicious that I felt removed a lot of utility from the site, and partly because I had long wanted to have a bookmarking site that would archive my bookmarks...
... The service has stored about 45 million bookmarks as of January 2012, and has just over 20 thousand active users....

... Pinboard is written in PHP and Perl. The site uses MySQL for data storage, Sphinx for search, and Amazon S3 to store backups....

As a bookmarking service Pinboard is a labor of love. It probably wouldn't do better even if it were extended to be the front end to a standards-based microblogging service - but I hope Maciej will consider the option. There might be some money from current subscribers, and perhaps referral fees if Maciej recommends an optional WordPress service (ex: Dreamhost,

Someday we'll get back to the original Google Reader Shares vision. It might take a while though. After Palm died we were lost in the desert for a decade before we returned to a handheld calendar, tasks, contacts and notes solution. I hope this trip will be a bit shorter.

Update 4/30/12: Maciej is exploring how Pinboard might be a better microblogging profile, and whether it would work to enable Pinboard indexing. In the meanwhile I've turned off IFTTT posting to Blogger and disabled indexing of that test blog. I'll go forward with archiving my Pinboard posts to WordPress -


maciej said...

I'm amenable to making changes to support microblogging, but find parts of this post a little confusing. For example, what do you mean by " I can't, for example, show only my own tags in the Pinboard UI."?

If you don't mind going into a little more detail about your workflow, I'd be happy to find ways to support it. Send me an email!

JGF said...

Thanks! I'll send an email. I'm probably missing something about the tag UI.