Archive for the ‘Bookmarking’ Category
“Agglom’s basic function is that you can publish your current browser session to the web, requiring little more than a single click…. The saved session then becomes available in three formats: as a web page that displays the links, as a URL slideshow, and as an RSS feed.”
Every couple of weeks I scan Mozilla’s Firefox Add-on site for new additions. I’m especially attracted to the ones that affect browser tab behavior. Last week, while I was actually looking for a Firefox 3.0 compatible alternative to SessionSaver, a little gem popped up that I hadn’t come across before: Agglomerator. Contrary to many browser add-ons that I only keep enabled on my system for a few hours, I’m finding Agglomerator and accompanying service Agglom.com promising enough to stay.
Agglom’s basic function is that you can publish your current browser session to the web, requiring little more than a single mouse click. Shared links can be multi-media or just plain web pages. I created a simple one from Chris Brogan’s personal-branding posts. An even richer example of what Agglom is capable of doing is this Agglom set I found, with videos, photos, links and other resources about Olympic ‘pool shark’ Michael Phelps.
If you’d like to experience hands-on what Agglom can do for you, just read this paragraph. Start by signing up for an account on the Agglom service. Then, install the Agglomerator add-on and restart your browser. Now a new, modest toolbar button becomes available, labeled “Share session”.
Next, make sure you have a bunch of tabs open that you’d like to save as an organized set. Press the Agglom button to save any or all of the tabs you currently have open, then label this custom tab set with a title of your choosing, assign tags as you see fit and lastly publish the set as a private or public list. The saved session then becomes available in three formats: as a web page that displays the links, as a URL slideshow, and as an RSS feed.
Besides the ease with which you can publish collections of URLs, I am particularly impressed with how slideshows are implemented in Agglom. Any set you create on Agglom automatically has a slideshow attached to it that uses the original URLs. At the moment Agglom slideshows are not progressing automatically. From what I understand the Agglom developer is planning to add this feature, depending on user feedback. Here’s what the Agglom slideshow interface looks like:
Agglom sessions can be easily changed: you can change the sort order of the links by drag and drop, you can add new links and remove old ones, change their title and URL and adjust the privacy settings.
Public Agglom session links can be accessed through their URL by anyone—no Agglom account is required. Agglom users can leave comments on the lists that you share and even submit suggestions for improvements to the owner of any list. Here’s what an Agglom page looks like in edit mode, in this case for an Agglom set I created from David Tebbutt’s series of posts on how to handle the press, Media Skills 101:
Agglom is the prodigy brainchild of 23-yr old Enrico Foschi, an Italian web developer living in Bray, a town close to Dublin, Ireland. Enrico launched the first version of Agglom just over a month ago and has improved the service at an amazing pace since then. Here’s a 3-minute video from Agglom’s early days, in which Enrico explains what the service does:
Today Enrico launched Agglom Beta 3.1 with the blog post Agglom.com adds URL slideshows, RSS and easy link suggestion.
Realizing Agglom was only launched fairly recently, I am already much impressed by its current feature set. In the past few days Agglom developer Enrico displayed a remarkable flexibility in not just listening to and rephrasing the suggestions I made, but even more so by implementing the majority of the improvement ideas we generated together. Yet, there are a few aspects of Agglom that deserve attention:
- Unclutter the web site. Agglom offers lots of functionality. New users might be overwhelmed by the many links, icons and other pieces of information.
- Leave out the advertisement for the Agglomerator add-on when a user has already got that add-on installed.
- Replace the current list of bookmarking service in the sidebar by one generic link to a service like ShareThis.
Include the code snippet into your blog and you’ll see the familiar Digg icon, including the number of current Diggs, right next to the content on your page. Full customization details are available on the Digg Tools page. Before I found out about this Digg tool, I used Bitty browser to achieve almost the same result. Read on to learn how useful Bitty is when combined with anchored urls.
A couple of weeks ago my CNET rant was promoted on Digg for a couple of hours, mostly thanks to the impression I seem to have made on one particular digger named chrisek (have I thanked you enough?) It was really fun to see the counter go up each time I refreshed the page. One particular extension for Firefox by Jaap Haitsma, called Reload Every, which lets you set a refresh frequency for Firefox tabs, came in very handy in this situation. Still, keeping the news to myself didn’t seem the right thing to do, so I did some quick thinking.
It made sense to me to update my blog post and see if I could boost its popularity on Digg even more. I couldn’t find a suitable solution on the steadily growing TypePad Widget Gallery and I had explored the Digg Tools page for clues months ago already without much success, so I figured there was no way I could show the live Digg button unless I’d be prepared to migrate my entire blog just to be able to use the Digg plugin for WordPress.
I did some quick thinking and found a pretty acceptable solution by using "the browser in a browser" Bitty, displaying just the top-left part of the page:
I was reasonably satisfied with this outcome, but still wanted the image to be cleaner, smaller. Then I wrote to Scott Matthews, the Bitty developer, and asked if he could think of some way to have the Bitty scroll down the page, so that just only the Digg button would be visible inside the Bitty view port. Scott replied almost instantly: "Have you considered using one of the # anchor tags?"
I looked at the source of the Digg page for my blog post, discovered that there was an anchor id named "header-secondary", and added the id as an #anchor to the url used in the Bitty code. This was the result:
I promise I won’t overdo it with these Digg buttons. I’ll only display one if someone else diggs any of my posts.
The discovery about Bitty is quite cool I think, especially when you have control over the HTML source of the page that you are displaying, or when there are useful anchors available already.
Quite a few bookmarks being labeled with the tag "RSS" on del.icio.us refer to stuff I’ve already seen before: sites that I bookmarked myself, RSS tools and services that everybody seems to know about already or—especially annoying lately—pages undeservedly tagged "RSS", aka downright spam.
This morning, however, something showed up that did grab my attention: a project by Kent Brewster in which he demonstrates how useful it is that some major RSS-enabled web services have opened up their architecture. For a day-time job Kent works at Yahoo! in Silicon Valley, but from what I read on his side-projects page, he enjoys spending a lot of his spare time programming as well.
Let’s look at a screenshot, as usual. Click on it to open a full-size version of the image:
So what does FeedFlinger let you do?
Quoting Kent’s blog post:
"FeedFlinger is a prototype nothing-but-net RSS explorer, mashing up Feedburner’s sweet tasty new JSON return for source material, two flavors of Yahoo! Search for search and term extraction, and del.icio.us for storing and sharing."
And in my words: the Find Me instant search box allows you to type in the name of a feed. In this implementation it’s the Yahoo! Search API that limits the search results to just FeedBurner feeds. Selected feeds get added to a list in the right-hand panel. I chose my own River of News feed and the FeedBurner blog Burning Door, for example. You can see that each feed in the collection is displayed with all its feed items.
Hover your mouse on any entry and a pop-up is shown with a summary of its contents. Then Yahoo!’s Term Extraction API comes into play, generating a list of terms ordered by frequency of occurrence. This keyword list is displayed in the top-left column, called Interesting Terms.
The final step is to bookmark your custom collection of feeds, on del.icio.us of course.
A summary of FeedFlinger is listed on ProgrammableWeb in the category RSS mashups: FeedFlinger on ProgrammableWeb.
Final words: FeedFlinger is a work in progress, but definitely a fine one at that: Kent diligently documents the bugs he’s still working on, most importantly the lack of cross-browser compatibility. In real life I’m not to sure limiting feed search to just FeedBurner results is that useful, but that’s beside the point of Kent’s project: he clearly wants to demonstrate what’s currently possible.
Here’s a Grazr about FeedFlinger, to finish off the icing on today’s cake:
It seems I’ve been pushing the del.icio.us bookmarking service to its limits over the last few weeks. I use my RSSonate account primarily to describe blog posts related to RSS technology. It has become an annotated mini-blog of some sort. Of course it serves the purpose of building a repository of stuff I come across during my day, but I also use it to practice a more succinct writing style: del.icio.us only allows a maximum of 255 chars in the Notes field, so I’m forced to compose a meaningful summary of the author’s message. To keep an eye on the del.icio.us field length limitations I use an adapted Greasemonkey script similar to the one by Jason Rhyley.
RSSonate bookmarks are automatically mixed with other pointers and then displayed in the CleverJots animated headlines ticker at the top of each blog post here on CleverClogs. Curious how I made that ticker? Check out the latest incarnation of the Headline Animator by FeedBurner. An alternative is Flaremaker by the people from Myzan.
Back to the issue I’m having with del.icio.us at the moment: while I’m tagging those bookmarks with keywords such as "RSS", "information overload", etc, I also add to that same tags field the names of a number of people from my del.icio.us network with whom I’d like to share what I found. Items tagged with "for:account" end up in the "links for you" section for that account, which is a link available from the horizontal navigator at the top of every del.icio.us user’s homepage.
The bookmark sharing feature is documented in a del.icio.us help page called "Links for You". Most of my friends appreciate the link love so much that I’ve been quite diligent in continuing this practice until I found out a few days ago that del.icio.us had not been delivering any of these "for:" links for several weeks to at least four of five of my contacts.
I’m still not sure what causes this delivery problem. I’m grateful to Randy Morin for offering to point it out on his blog after I had a private e-mail exchange about the issue with him: he called the issue "Not so del.icio.us". Randy’s blog has about 50 times as many readers as I do—no doubt someone will be able to tell me what’s causing the behavior. Perhaps it’s even documented?
Before I forget: I am making a FeedBurner version of the RSSonate Bookmarks Feed available so that I can track how many people are adding it to their feed reader..
Have you always wondered which top-notch delivery protocol the Six Apart programmers implemented to get your tags stored safely and securely into the massive Technorati database servers?
The answer to that question is finally here, on Everything TypePad today: the blog post Sending your blog by special delivery features a special video documentary (1:57 mins) revealing inside secrets to get the job done:
Now that we’re talking Technorati-speak anyway: have you tried clicking on any of the tags at the footer of any of my own blog posts yet? Instead of performing a generic Technorati search, each tag hyperlink delivers Technorati search results from CleverClogs only.
Besides email, would you prefer other methods to connect to me? A formal contact form? What else?
"… in my book the really genuine and brilliant twist to the Clipmarks design is that you can collect multiple clippings from multiple URLs into a single clipmark."
The Clipmarks team pushed out an impressive set of new features last night. Before I touch upon those, let me explain why I think the Clipmarks offering is a fundamental step forward from the other bookmarking services that bloggers usually feel compelled to mention in one breath: firstly a clipmark is centered around an idea, a message, one or more quotations, in short any piece of interesting information that you might find on the web. Of course the source URL of any clipping (rich text or image) is automatically stored in a clipmark, but in my book the really genuine and brilliant twist to the Clipmarks design is that you can collect multiple clippings from multiple URLs into a single clipmark.
Browse Clipmarks live (thx: Bitty Browser)
Each clipmark has a URL of its own, which is usually referred to as a permalink. Because a permalink points to one particular clipmark, you can conveniently refer to it from an email message or an instant messaging conversation. The Clipmarks Team also solved the seemingly trivial nuisance of compound bookmarking tags: Clipmarks tags may consist of multiple words, so there is no need to spell awkward concoctions such as "presidential_elections" when you mean "presidential elections". Read the recent discussion following the article Tag formats: Can’t we all just get along? on Signal vs Noise if you are interested in this topic. Another blessing is that once you have designated your clipmark as private or public, you can add them to a categorized folder. To create clipmarks a browser toolbar needs to be installed (Firefox and Internet Explorer supported). Every clipmark is conveniently stored on the Clipmarks server.
The Clipmarks user interface has improved considerably since CEO Eric Goldstein announced its launch last September, especially with last night’s update. The color scheme is quite pleasing now and the modules in the left-hand navigator, intuitively titled My Clipmarks, Public Clipmarks and Stuff I Follow, are easy to operate. There are controls to extend a box so that it shows more than the default of 10 items and another one to collapse a box altogether. Tabbed panes inside each module quickly let you grasp which topics and clippers are hot today.
Any Clipmarks user can now define a clipper profile with coordinates such as location, email address, homepage URL, time zone, IM nickname and even a photo. By clicking on any clipper’s name Clipmarks users not only get instant access to that person’s public clipmarks in general, but also to any clipmarks conversation in which that clipper has engaged.
Conversation is very strongly implemented in Clipmarks—another excellent decision if you ask me. Look at the Chatter column on the right hand side. It has three tabbed panes: My Clips, Public Clips and Chatter I’m In. You can see how much time elapsed since a clipmark was commented on, by whom the comment was submitted and how many comments that clipmark has at this very moment.
The highlight of the Clipmarks conversation feature is the unobtrusive automatic page refresh the very instant a new comment arrives. The following clipmark about the shooting aboard an American Airlines plane is an excellent example of a realtime comments exchange taking place: Air Marshal open fire on American Airlines flight. This is true conversation.
"you can create custom feeds based on a tag that you specify, even if that particular tag has never been used in the past."
As to be expected of any self-respecting Web 2.0 service these days, Clipmarks has a strong and extremely versatile RSS backbone. However, instead of labeling the availability of RSS feeds as a feature for nerds, the Clipmarks developers decided to let you track fellow clippers and their tags right from the Clipmarks web interface, without even mentioning the word RSS! If you like you can create custom feeds based on a tag that you specify, even if that particular tag has never been used in the past.
Subscribing to a tag that has not been assigned to a clipmark.
What’s all the chatter about Clipmarks by John Tropea on LibraryClips, Dec. 7th 2005
New stuff in Clipmarks by Eric Goldstein on The Clipmarks Blog, Dec. 7th 2005
Tag formats: Can’t we all just get along? by Matt Linderman on Signal vs Noise (37Signals Blog), Dec. 5th 2005
Live News Radar (thx: FeedDigest)