Using Tumblr for Bookmarks
Forget using Digg, Diigo, or Delicious for your bookmarks. Tumblr is the best bookmark manager, and I’ll explain why.
I’m a former Delicious user and switched to Diigo a few years back. Diigo works slightly better than saving bookmarks right into Chrome, but good luck remembering to revisit any of the bookmarks you’ve ever saved.
Here’s a little background on my bookmark dilemma:
The Messy Dresser Analogy
I admit, I’m not the most fashionable guy. I have a dresser where I throw clothes. When I need clothes, I grab what I need from the top and go on with my day. Once something goes in, it’ll eventually end up in the back, long-forgotten in the passage of time. I only go dig deep into the abyss if I’m need something specific, and when that happens, my room will look like the aftermath of a velociraptor attack.
My dresser never inspires me, because I can’t see what all is in there. It’s all a deep mess. I know cool threads (is it still cool to call them threads?) are in there somewhere, I just can’t see what my options, or I can’t be bothered to dig everything out. And I value my ranting time, so I don’t put any effort into making myself look good.
The Organized Wardrobe Analogy
Meanwhile, wardrobes are often organized and present their content well. It’s in the middle of the bedroom. I can’t avoid it. It’s always there in the corner of my eyes, at the edge of my mind, and when I open it, all its dazzling options are on display. I can see an overview of every combination. All is clear, and everything makes sense.
All bookmark managers, including Chrome and Firefox bookmark bars, are like dressers. You throw something in there and it’s gone until you dig it up a few years later. They don’t inspire, they bury. Oh, and I’m a hoarder of bookmarks. I love saving links for later. How many links have I actually revisited? No clue. Sometimes I go take a look, sometimes I’m delighted at the stuff I find! But honestly, my dresser is overfilled with year-old forgotten bookmarks.
Here’s a screenshot. I tried to organize them at one point, but it didn’t go anywhere. Organizing bookmarks are like a chore, and I end up putting it off.
I recognize I’m a hoarder of bookmarks. I recognize I’m a slow reader, and that my eyes are bigger than my brain’s ability to take in information. I’m a squirrel of information. I save good reads for a rainy day. I save design resources for that one day I need them. I’m also very lazy when it comes to cleaning my bookmarks.
I need a way for me to store away resources I like. I need to be able to discern between resource bookmarks I can use for work, fun toys that inspire me, and good reads I’ve saved for later, or that I’ve really enjoyed reading. I should probably also mention again that I’m terribly lazy, and that anything that requires a heavy amount of overhead (like me dragging and dropping things into folders or remembering hashtags) will probably not work.
Tumblr as a Bookmark Solution
What I really need is a wardrobe for all my bookmarks. A place for me to save my reading for later, for those days I get bored or need inspiration. Of course, as a designer, I want to make something that fits my tastes. This is where Tumblr comes in.
Tumblr is a micro-blogging service that easily allows users to repost links, images, videos, and whatever I like. Tumblr allows users to curate and share content on their own pages.
Unlike every other bookmarking service, Tumblr has a powerful API that essentially lets its users use Tumblr in creative ways. I started my Tumblr blog as a way to share usability article, but soon discovered that Tumblr is a great way of storing bookmarks in the first place. Essentially, you can use Tumblr to create your own bookmarking experience.
With a Chrome extension like Post to Tumblr, I can add, categorize, and tag links I love in seconds. With Tumblr’s RSS and API features, I can make my links appear anywhere I want, including on my own portfolio blog.
I want visitors to my portfolio to know what I’m curious about and what I like reading. To do so, I’ve used the Tumblr API to display my links on my site (Here’s a quick how-to). I can even add my own comments, thoughts, and treat my bookmarks as reposts. The search bar and hashtag sidebar allow both visitors and myself to search for any posts I’ve shared.
Of course, there’s quite a bit more I could do for my bookmarking page, including categorization, but it satisfies my requirements for now.
See the live site at janzheng.com/bookmarks
One last thing: I like to get some inspiration the first thing in the morning, so I use a Chrome plugin service called Panda (it’s pretty awesome, check it out). Panda can display news and RSS feeds, so I can keep my bookmarks as a reading list by adding my own Tumblr RSS feed to Panda.
This way, whenever I start Chrome, I can get a quick glance at the recent bookmarks I’ve added.
I think the idea of public bookmarking fascinating, especially for designers and developers. Not only would these be great resources for others—these lists also give visitors a glimpse of the aesthetics and ideas the designer value.
I highly encourage others to follow in my footsteps and share their bookmarks for others to see.