Sunday, November 6, 2011

Google Sharing vs. Tumblr? Tumblr!!

Main point of this post: I'm now going to share interesting links that I find with commentary on my Tumblr page.  (RSS feed is here.)  You can stop reading right here!   For more on the reasoning behind this decision, keep reading ahead. 

I wrote a long post on how the disabling of the Google's "Note in Reader" bookmarklet (which went hand-in-hand with disabling Google Reader's sharing features) had taken the wind out of my sails, turning it into a lengthy point about how designed products end up working out for reasons other than what their designers envisioned. 

That was an academic point.  But what next?  I am really confused.  On the one hand, there is the Greasemonkey script that re-installs the sharing features in Google Reader; on the other is Tumblr which I have started to use as a sort of scrapbook of excerpts of interesting articles that I have read.

The Greasemonkey script is great - and it sort of suggests that Google has left the infrastructure for sharing in Reader intact while disabling the outer manifestations of it (the "share" "share with note" buttons, the list of followed people, etc.)***.  But how long will this infrastructure stay the way it is?  Google Buzz is going to be phased out soon and many people used Google Buzz to see the shared items rather than seeing them to Google Reader - so will this feature ever be the way it was?  And on and on - the uncertainty seems too much.

Which is why I've pretty much decided to take the leap into using Tumblr.  Of course, this means that I have to start building my network from scratch - but at least there's no uncertainty.  And one of the great things about Tumblr - as I've discovered from using it over the past few days - is that it really makes you read the piece in question.  That's because Tumblr is set up as a kind of commonplace book which means you need to pick out a paragraph or so from the piece that really really intrigues you; I've found myself reading pieces with that in mind and it's a big help.  Plus the commentary format where you take an extract from the piece and offer commentary on it is great for expressing quick thoughts on the piece in question.  In Google Reader, I would often share a piece without reading it with great care; it only needed to pass a certain minimum standard of "interestingness" and Reader made sharing much easier than Tumblr.  But all in all, there may be some advantages to the Tumblr model.  (Again, the whole thing goes to show how technical systems structure our practice in interesting ways.) 

That is all.  Tumblr link here

*** This seems like a true instance of the "Do no evil" motto that Googlers spout.  Also it's an interesting facet of information systems in general.  You can leave the infrastructure intact while still disabling a feature, thus allowing users to use it for themselves if they are enterprising enough.  Plus only some users need to be enterprising (the guys who wrote the Greasemonkey script in this case); the rest of us can reap benefits if the workaround is shared widely enough (and it seems to be, in this case). 

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