Content organisation (overload?)

I’ve finally set up a tumblr blog having been seduced by hydrgnc. This means I can quickly and easily post small gobbets of all sorts of (even more) inane stuff for which would be irritating to make an entire blog post.

How is this different from twittering, you might ask. Well, you can’t update it via text message from a mobile phone (quick and cheap) nor does it have the socially interactive, community and chatty aspects which I enjoy more than any other social site I’m a member of (an experience much enhanced by the wide range of notification applications available as well as optional SMS updates).

However you can swiftly and simply post all manner of digital content – video, audio, photo – quickly and easily as well as, of course, text. It’s also possible to upload pictures taken on a mobile phone using a designated e-mail address, but only if your handset and service support it.

My problem is that in terms of the web I’m a convergence junkie. Always have been. This means I want one small device (a bit of hardware) to do everything imaginable (run lots of different applications quickly and easily and in an integrated manner as well as take pictures, videos and record audio) (yes, my iPhone lust is now even stronger than before… imagine what could be done… sigh). Similarly I don’t want little bits of content scattered all over the web in separate, albeit all frizzy, strands – pictures, videos, knitting, screen-grabs, audio delight etc etc etc.

This is where it’s at, as far as I’m concerned, the blog. And, short of starting all over again and setting up some sort of personal portal, this is where it’s going to stay. But how to get everything all in one place?

One sort of solution is the Show Yourself widget (over to the right in the sidebar down near the bottom). The problem is that it’s static. It’s a list of links, albeit easily generated and reasonably well presented ones, but it doesn’t change unless I choose to add or subtract to it which is a rather time-consuming business.

A dynamic solution is to harvest rss feeds which can be displayed in the sidebar. I’ve had lots of those for various separate things over the years using the versatile Feed Digest – see for instance the latest Global Voices headlines and the latest tracks I’ve listened to on iTunes which are displayed in the sidebar under “Global Voicing” and “Listening”.

Now I’m also funneling feeds from my flickr and tumblr accounts into my twitter stream using the excellent twitterfeed. When I post something new to either it automatically generates a twitter entry (a tweet) which includes a clickable link back to the original item. I’m toying with the idea of adding feeds of newly posted videos on YouTube (should I ever actually post any) and newly-started knitting projects as listed on Ravelry.

An aside: despite the fact that this site is still in beta and can’t be accessed by non-members it’s currently ranked fifth out of the top ten web applications as listed by Web App Charts. And how do I know this? because pixeldiva twittered it (although you probably won’t be able to see the twitter itself unless you’re already an approved follower).

All these tweets, which now include notifications of exciting content generated by yours truly as well as my 140-characters-constrained text ramblings, now appear as a clickable list of links in my sidebar under the heading “Curly strands of content”, changed from “Twittering” to reflect the rather larger ambit. And, in a move indicative of how exciting I find the whole thing, it’s been shunted to the premium page real estate position at the top of the screen. W000t!

Now you might, if you have managed to read this far and actually followed my labyrinthine explanations, be asking yourself why I’m channeling everything through twitter rather than syphoning all the constituent feeds into a single output using the aforementioned Feed Digest. And if you are, the answer is that using this method not only does everything obediently appear in the blog sidebar it also gets distributed to my (tiny but very select and gorgeous) twitter community and appears automagically as my “status update” on Facebook.

Er, right. That’s it. From the length of this post it might appear that I’ve spent all day setting these things up. I haven’t. It’s actually really quick and easy. Most of the day has been spent researching possible yarn for a hat for Neha and yarn and a pattern for fingerless mittens for a friend, allergic to wool, who has a birthday soon.

(Oh, and be glad I didn’t diverge into del.icio.us territory, and yes I do know that a link to my blog posts appears on my blog. Or at least it should do if I didn’t delete the associated twitterfeed by mistake. So this post also acts as a test of that. Right, I’m really going now.)

15 Replies to “Content organisation (overload?)”

  1. A few thoughts…

    My Tumblr usage is more for myself than others, but friends and hardcore Hydragenic fans might find it interesting. It’s a random mish-mash of stuff that has caught my eye and got me thinking. Some of it is just “I liked this” but other items tie in with the broader themes that I write about on the blog.

    I’m still not clear in my own mind yet on why some of my quotes and links to text-based material get Tumblr-ed and some get del.icio.us-ed. However, there is definitely an instinctive understanding of which way something should go. This is helping me to understand better what Hydragenic is “about”.

    I used to be an “all in one place” man, but now I’m much more comfortable with the idea of distributed content. I definitely don’t feel the need to have a “portal” to aggregate everything. There are unobtrusive links to most of it at the bottom of the blog and if people want to follow it, they can.

    I do point people towards some of my blog posts from other locations. This tends to be specifically on MySpace (my presence there is almost entirely music-oriented) and Last.fm, but I only tend to do it for my music-based posts. It’s a way of getting my music stuff noticed by people who don’t read the blog.

    Having said that – and I realise this is going to sound very hypocritical – I don’t like this recently emerging phenomenon of posting updates to Twitter about recent blog posts. It just feels “wrong” and I can’t really articulate why. Possibly the duplication of also having the Twitter updates on the blog?

    I reserve the right to change my mind about any or all of this at the drop of a hat, of course.

  2. Very interesting, thank you.

    I actually wondered, as I fiddled with all the feeds, why the hell I was doing it. And I think the answer is for two reasons. Firstly, simply because I could – I love the potential of the technology and its flexibility and working out ways to do things. Secondly because, having already passed through several blog identity crises, I find myself really not caring much about what impression this makes on anyone else. That sounds arrogant but it certainly isn’t meant to be. Having such a small readership, no “public” or “work” personae to worry about, no niche to occupy, no audience in mind and (being lazy) no excellence to aspire to this space is pretty much entirely a personal playground.

    Which begs the question why make anything available publicly, why not just play around in an unpublished sand pit. And the answer to that must be that other people do come and say hello and sit on the swings or slide down the slide in this playground and I nip round to their place/s and it is that community and interaction that fuels the process.

    Hello readers! I love you all. You don’t mind if this place is a bit of a shambles, do you now 😀

  3. I enjoy playing in your playground, rr, and don’t think it’s a shambles at all, just a very creative work-in-progress if you will! Certainly the community and interaction are a great motivator for me too. I find myself sometimes thinking my own blog goes all over the place but I don’t want to spend the time doing several blogs, or other spaces when I’m already on this machine far too much. Good for you in doing so much!

  4. The problem with “current strands” is two-fold: it’s redundant in the case of tweets about posts here, and it’s frustrating because the snurl links don’t work. I wonder if there’s a way to have a combined feed routed through Yahoo Pipes to eliminate the tweets that are simply link posts (and include the tumblrs, flickrs, YouTube, etc.)?

  5. Oh you’re so clever! all I can do is sit back and wonder and dip in here or there. And I don’t believe it’s really that quick and easy, except for the likes of you.

    That’s an amazing factoid about ravlery’s ratings; what is it about knitting and the net? Perhaps the answer’s in the question…

  6. Dave, you’re right on both counts. I’ve been playing around with pipes and so far I can’t get it/them to produce precisely the output I want.

    I *can* take the twitter rss feed, remove all the tweets sent directly to another individual (nobody wants to read those apart from the addressee) and remove the tweets relating to new blog posts.

    But because of the way the original feed is configured the output looks horrid. Each tweet is preceded by my username and each entry contains the entire text twice – once as a hyperlink to the original tweet and again without being linked back. Needless to say the snurls are not converted to links. You can see what I mean here, should you be interested.

    I’m pretty sure that these problems can be overcome. It would mean playing around with the individual elements of each item’s feed. The difficulty is finding out how to do it, and I just don’t have the inclination to wade through all the jargon to discover the answers.

    The display method being used up in the sidebar currently is, I’m pretty sure, based on javascript ie probably jss rather than rss. Anyway, that’s by-the-by. What I want is something like twhirl embedded in my sidebar.

    fluffspangle - twhirl 0.7.1
    Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

    That’s a screen grab but on the app itself the snurls are links, the time-code a link to the tweet’s original web page. That’s the view that includes me an me mates. What I would like on the blog is this view – just my tweets:

    fluffspangle - twhirl 0.7.1
    Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

    And, as the tweets explain, I’d like to remove the avatar and filter out notification of blog posts. All of which, I am sure, is absolutely possible. I just have no idea how to do it.

    Er, right.

    m-l and Lucy, thank you very much! 🙂

  7. Sorry rr, I’m with Hg (and Meg P) on this one: I’m strongly anti using Twitter as a means of flagging up new posts. Firstly because it goes against my (admittedly subjective, but probably widely shared) conception of what Twitter is about: I use it to read social, informal, personal, real-time messages from real-time people, and so the intervention of flat, impersonal, bot-created alerts jars horribly in that concept. And secondly because it’s a needless duplication of information: if we want to be alerted to new posts, then we’re already getting that info through our RSS feed subscriptions. Just my two penn’orth and all that…

  8. Mike, I’m still pondering this. I don’t mind receiving such notifications but what I do find slightly annoying is being told what track someone is listening to. I only have one person on my list who does it, though (along with blog posts, photos posted to flickr and even the occasional bon mot) so it isn’t burdensome. Getting the signal to noise ratio is the trick. My twitter community is small so incoming post notifications aren’t a problem.

    Dave, I’ve attempted to register with BlogCatalog to try streaming my life.

  9. I know you’re not on MT anymore, but for reference MT4.1 now has something called “action streams” that help you to aggregate all of your disparate web content into a Twitter-like continuum on your blog. More info here and a good example (on a multi-author blog) here. There might be a similar WP plugin (i.e. one that doesn’t rely on a 3rd part service like the BlogCatalog one).

    I think, as Mike comments, it’s the duplication that bothers me most about blog post updates on Twitter. If you’re going to aggregate, that’s a hub and spoke concept. You’re creating content in numerous “buckets” (blog, Twitter, Flickr, del.icio.us and so on) and then you’re pulling them all together into one location – which in your case is the broader context of your blog’s home page. To then start to push one particular type of content (i.e. blog post) back into another of those buckets (i.e. Twitter) seems entirely inconsistent. It’s like if every time I wrote a blog post, I posted a screenshot of it to Flickr.

    On a (possibly) related subject, Twine looks like it’s going to be interesting.

  10. SocialThing’s another new catch all ‘lifestream’, currently in beta. I’ve got invites if anyone wants to have a look.

  11. Hg, thanks. Signed up. Caroline, thanks. Signed up.

    Sigh.

    Here I’ve been, pottering along for months unemployed and unsubscribed from all my socialweb/2.0 feeds, and yet the subject’s so damn compelling.

  12. It is compelling. I have elaborate fantasies about adopting one of those new, magazine-style themes for Via Neg, so I can turn my other “streams” into, you know, Departments. But beyond a certain point, this kind of repackaging gets in the way of creating new content, I think.

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