I am struggling to organize my digital life. And while there are several parts I could talk about (and most likely will at some point) right now the one that bugs me the most is my bookmarks. My biggest problem is self imposed. I don’t like keeping most of my bookmarks in the browser. I keep things like bookmarklets and sites I access frequently (SubSonic, Ello, HTML cheat sheets, etc) in the browser, but most of my bookmarks fall into “articles I’ve filed away for later.” And I don’t want them restrained to something as silly as a browser.
I love Pinterest. It allows me to find things I never knew I was looking for. I can save off recipes to make later. Claire and I are constantly sending each other stuff we find there. But trying to go back and find any given thing you’ve pinned? Not the easiest. It’s even harder if you just saved off something to come back to. You’ll never come back. With the constant influx of new things, the “read it later” article you posted will be lost in Pinterest forever. No matter how much I try to organize Pinterest, it always ends up a mess. So while Pinterest is the number one bookmark site, I find it really doesn’t work as a bookmark site at all. At least not for me.
Up next on my list of bookmark sites to try was StumbleUpon. Now, I’ve used Stumble Upon in the past as a way to pass the time. And as a discovery tool, it’s amazing. It’s so good I was a little afraid to give it a second go. (Do you know how dangerous it is to have ADHD and a Stumble upon account? You never get anything done.) But with it’s lists (and the ability to promote my stuff), I figured it might be worth a try. And it was better than Pinterest. A little. Mainly because you can “thumbs up” something to show you like it without having to put it in a list/board. It allows you to share without mucking up the stuff you really want to keep. Plus, it has a built in “save for later” feature. But in the end, it was also too much social and not enough bookmarking.
Delicious used to be the site for bookmarks, back when it was del.icio.us (and you thought leaving off vowels was annoying). It was lightweight. You could tag posts and find similar sites. It was amazing. And then Yahoo bought it and did nothing with it. They even threatened to shut it down at one point, but the collective response was “NOOOOOO!!!” A “no” that made the shutdown of Google Reader seem like a “meh.” So instead it got sold (and sold again), and is still with us today. And really, it hasn’t changed a ton. Which is good and bad. It’s still lightweight, but for me it’s almost too much so. It’s hard to choose a recipe to make for dinner when you can’t skim pictures. And quite honestly, I don’t have the most confidence in it anymore. It’s been sold too often. While the owners tend to leave well enough alone I can’t help but wonder when the other shoe is going to drop and it just goes away completely.
Evernote is one of my favourite tools on the web. I write posts in it. I jot down notes in it. I make myself to-do lists in it. It seemed like the ideal place to keep all my bookmarks. And initially, it was great. I added bookmarks I wanted to keep for later, and organized them in their own bookmarks “stack.” I tagged them so I could find them later easily. I can search for them without any great struggle. Except, it got a bit cluttered. Like I said, I have a lot of articles I just save for later and then delete. That kind of temporary document is not the type of thing I want to keep in my Evernote notebook. Having a “save for later notebook” was just too much.
Pocket is an awesome bookmark tool. First of all, it’s well integrated into other things I use. I can easily add items from my iPad or my Android phone, and read them from there as well (it’s harder than it should be to share across platforms). I can easily send items to Pocket from Feedly. I can just use a bookmarklet to add from my browser, I don’t need an extension (the “read anything you do in the browser” part of extensions makes me uneasy). The reading mode is lovely. If an article has a featured image, I can see it (makes skimming easier). The tagging method of organization is nice (although I wish you could create tag groups like you can in Delicious.) Overall it’s a solid interface that works well with several services.
One thing I really don’t like with Pocket is the “premium level.” I’m not opposed to paying for a service, but the features Pocket offers as a premium aren’t worth $5 a month. Some of them (like search within a tag) feel like they should be free. And others (like permanent copies of saved articles) aren’t worth the cost. I’d be willing to pay $12 a year (or $1 a month) for these features. But not $5. Heck, for $5 I can get a Spotify Unlimited membership. It’s just not enough service for the price.
When it’s all said in done, the best solution is the blend of two, Evernote and Pocket. I save articles from around the web in Pocket. When I find something I want to keep for later, I send it to Evernote using IFTTT. Using tags, I can send items from Pocket to a particular notebook in Evernote. This keeps my Evernote free of all the extra clutter from my “for later” articles, and keeps my Pocket free of the stuff I plan to keep (I just archive them away). Plus, Evernote Food is awesome for all the recipes I save off.