Friday, September 30, 2011
(Or: Simplicity and Alternatives)
A couple of months ago, I purchased a smart phone for two main reasons: My old cell phone was decrepit, and I wanted something that was more useful (and professional-looking) for business. I have been continually amazed ever since by how useful it has been, and in how many areas of my life, including blogging.
I certainly wouldn't browse the Internet very much on a smart phone if I had viable alternatives, but so much of my time is currently occupied by taking care of our daughter that if I didn't have a way to do this while she is not-quite-feeding/not-quite-sleeping/not-really-in-the-mood-to-play, or catnapping in my lap, I'd have had to even further reduce my blogging output -- or stop altogether -- long ago. Like so many other things I do with my phone, one of the things most integral to the usefulness of searching for material on the web has been the ability to easily save my output for later, when I have both hands, my full focus, a decent chunk of time, and a "real" computer. For keeping track of web links for later use, be it for blogging, networking, or work-related research, the social bookmarking site, Delicious, had been invaluable. I was a latecomer to the site, adopting it only when I started to notice how much I was using the phone to browse the web. The simplicity of entering and categorizing links is what I liked about the site.
With its recent, botched re-launch -- which seems to have broken the APIs relied upon by any related mobile phone app I can find -- the Delicious site is much less convenient to use for adding new bookmarks now. (Currently, I'm pasting URLs into a to-do list application and adding them to Delicious later. This is tedious, and wastes precious moments of computer time.) On top of this, the process of using a browser pointed at the full site to add or edit bookmarks is now less convenient. These, and other changes, like the heavily-promoted "stacks" ("playlists for the Web") have me echoing ZDNet's Violet Blue, in wondering, "[D]id anyone at AVOS actually use Delicious?"
I want to keep track of content I have found. It should be easy to add, easy to categorize and annotate, and easy to find again. That's all I want. I should at least be able to easily avoid all the new bells and whistles. Who knows? Maybe a graphics-heavy, Yahoo!-like destination site will grab a bigger audience. I won't be part of that audience, though, because if I wanted a television set or an image gallery, I wouldn't be visiting a site whose stated purpose is to organize information.
My own advice to the people at AVOS would be to suck it up, like the folks at Sitemeter did a few years ago, and roll back to its old system. It is less flashy, but its great appeal, at least to me, was its simplicity. That's what I wish they would do, but looking at the site is discouraging, in that the new ownership seem too bedazzled by what they've come up with to listen. So, I'm exporting my bookmarks and looking for alternatives to Delicious, in the likely event that the new proprietors continue to fail to see simplicity for the gem it really is.
Your suggestions, gentle readers, are welcome!