// Internet Duct Tape

Social Media — What is it Good For?

Posted in Technology, Web 2.0 and Social Media by engtech on July 24, 2008

Social Bookmarking and Social Voting

I took a three month break from blogging and social media sites so that I could focus 100% on a critical project at work. Strangely enough I didn’t miss the flow of information; I was still able to find interesting links for coffee break time by browing Hackers News. Here’s a break down of my experience from leaving for so long and rejoining it.

Blog

Blog traffic went down -26% (vs -12% for the previous period).

Feed subscriptions up 9% (vs 12% for the previous period).

My blog email address is inundated with press releases and the very occassional question about an old post or tool.

My blog comments are a horrible nightmare of spam that I still have yet to wade through. WordPress has an annoying bug that when you click “Mark As Spam” it always returns you to the start. There’s been 20 pages of comments. It’s likely that most are spam.

It makes me wonder how much time a day I was spending on blog maintenance. The time sink in blogging isn’t writing posts; it’s all the related activities.

News

Surprisingly, I didn’t miss out on much by not having my lips attached to the news firehouse. Some crazy PM is trying to put me in jail with a new Canadian copyright bill that someone needs to question him about how it benefits his constituents. The iPhone is finally available in Canada, and the data plan is almost-but-not-quite liveable. Facebook has a redesign in the works. Xbox has some cool ideas for release next fall.

I’m sure there were plenty of things happening that I could have gotten worked up about, but nothing happened that directly affects my life that I would have found out about on the Internet.

LinkedIn

I’ve had a strict policy of only using LinkedIn for people I’ve actually worked/went to university with, and it’s been a good tool for contacting ex-coworkers years later about new job opportunities. Spam free.

Facebook

I try to keep Facebook to “real life people only”, and that works well for me. I only use it for group emails, and for photo sharing. Spam free once you get rid of those people who invite you to use applications.

Google Reader

I’m oversubscribed still. When you check your RSS feeds once a month, it becomes much more about the people who consistently keep you thinking or providing good information. Of course, information is only useful if it has impact on your life.

We, the information overloaded, collect new information but I wonder how much of it is retained and has lasting impacting on our lives?

Twitter

I didn’t feel any pain of Twitter downtime because I didn’t log into it. I need to cull my friendslist to make it more useful. But I found Kathy Sierra on twitter and if that’s the real thing then it’s a good sign for twitter having the potential for making me think vs phasing it completely out of my life because of the constant self-promotion.

I still like twitter for chatting with other bloggers that I respect.

Friend Feed

Still not sure if I like rooms or not. The Friend Feed hacking community is kicking even harder lately with a ton of new greasemonkey scripts thanks to Hao Chen. It looks like Lou Cypher is getting involved in Friend Feed as well which means even more cool little hacks.

Nothing new has been happening with ffapps or friendfeedwatch though.

Delicious

It might be time for me to abandon delicious for something new to use for bookmarking. The future does not look peachy for delicious with Josh leaving Yahoo. Maybe it’s time to look at Google Reader shares as an alternative.

Last.FM

I’m still using it, still finding great music because of it. I do like The Filter for making lastfm-esque playlists of my own music collection.

Real Life

I’ve been enjoying the summer and having more time for family, friends and non-Internet hobbies like reading, movies, and games. I really appreciate the knowledge I’ve built up with the programming I’ve done. I plan to continue that in that direction: releasing useful free software and delving into creating my own web apps. I want to spend less time participating and more time creating.

Filtering Reddit and Hacker News

Posted in Firefox and Greasemonkey, Reddit, Technology by engtech on May 23, 2008

Social Bookmarking and Social Voting

Giles had a fantastic rant this week that cut to the heart of what’s wrong with all of these “social web application sites”:

People who waste their own time have, in effect, more votes than people who value it – to elevate bad but popular ideas and irretrievably sink independent thinking.

It’s analogous to what’s wrong with the entire massively online roleplaying game genre (eg: World of Warcraft) in that success is a greater factor of the time invested than of skill or talent. Many social web applications add extra features to keep the users interacting with the site, even if this interaction offers dubious value to their lives.

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Crunching the Friend Feed Stats to Find the Most Popular Web Apps

Posted in friendfeed, Technology, Web 2.0 and Social Media by engtech on March 26, 2008

Social Bookmarking and Social Voting

One of the nicest things about the Internet is that if you sit on your ass for long enough, someone will code up whatever little side project you’re thinking about starting. In my case, I was interested in finding out general statistics about Friend Feed as a tape measure of how popular certain social bookmarking sites are. Enter Friend Feed Stats. Thank you, lazyweb.

What Is the Most Popular Web Service?

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Blog Tip: Create a Link Post in 3 Seconds

Posted in Becoming a Better Blogger, Delicious, Technology, Yahoo Pipes by engtech on October 03, 2007

Bloggin Tips and Tricks

This is the successor to my post on how to build a weekly digest in 3 seconds.

One question I’m frequently asked is “how do you build those Best of Feeds weekly links?” The way I do it is pretty complicated, but I’ve found a much simpler solution that I want to share with you all. Building a list of links is something every blogger does at one time or another, and it doesn’t have to be hard.

Why Create a Link Post?

Link posts are great ways to share and acknowledge interesting links. Linking to other blogs is what makes the blogosphere tick. If you don’t routinely read and link to other bloggers then your using your blog as a one-way soapbox instead of as a medium for sparking communication and building relationships.

Link posts can be used for a variety of reasons:

  • Weekly Round-up
  • List of resources about a subject
  • List of group writing participants
  • List of contest participants

Here are some more tips from the experts on why create a link post

Step #1: Use Delicious to Save Links

I’m a delicious power user and it’s my favourite site for bookmarking interesting links. It integrates nicely with whatever web browser you are using.

This video explains how to use Delicious to bookmark sites

Delicious already comes with a way of posting a daily link report, but I don’t like it because I feel like I’m spamming my regular readers if my blog is filled with “links for 2007-10-02″ instead of stuff I wrote myself. I much prefer posting once a week, or having full control over when I post my list of links.

But the delicious tagging system is so useful for building a list of links around a specific subject, and for attaching short descriptions around each link. For instance, I used the ‘project3′ tag when I was picking out my favorite posts from the Project 3 group writing project on Daily Blog Tips.

Delicious also integrates nicely into your web browser, no matter what it might be.

Step #2: Use Delicious Link Builder

I’ve created a Yahoo Pipe that builds a list of your del.icio.us links that you can cut-and-paste into a blog post.

  1. Put in your delicious username
  2. Optional: Filter your links by a tag
  3. Optional: Filter your links by date
  4. Optional: Limit the number of links (maximum is 31, this is a limit from del.icio.us)
  5. Click ‘Run Pipe
  6. Cut-and-paste the results into a blog post using your WYSIWYG editor

Delicious Link Builder

The Results

This is an example of a list from my delicious saved bookmarks.

That’s all there is to it. Bookmark web pages with delicious, then go into Delicious Link Builder when you want to make a list of them.

You can start by bookmarking this post. :)

Advanced Users – Pretty Cut-n-Paste

I use a Greasemonkey script in Firefox to make the output of Yahoo Pipes a little bit nicer.

  1. How to Install Greasemonkey
  2. How to Install a Greasemonkey Script
  3. Install Yahoo Pipe Cleaner

Advanced Users – Clone Your Own Pipe

If you’re logged into Yahoo then you’ll have the option to ‘clone’ my Pipe (Delicious Links Builder). This means you have your own copy of it and you can change the default values for the fields to whatever you want, eg: always default to your username, and to 7 days worth of links.

Advanced Users – StumbleUpon

If you’re using delicious to save bookmarks, you can also use another handy Greasemonkey script I created that lets you save web pages to StumbleUpon at the same time you’re saving them to Delicious.

Related Links

There’s Plenty More

See the full list of free software I have created.

You can get frequent updates about all of my new software, tools or blog themes by subscribing to IDT Labs by RSS or by email. Or you could just subscribe to my main blog, Internet Duct Tape.

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This post was written as part of the Geeks Are Sexy Ultimate “How-To” contest.

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