Packrati.us = Twitter + Delicious = Useful + Simple

18 03 2010

To me, Twitter is an essential source for information. It is an easy way to keep updated in my field, it is fast and it is an ideal networking site to build relationships. Without it I wouldn’t have ‘met’ so many excellent and interesting people. In fact those people are my living filter to the Twitter noise (see previous post): I only follow people with whom I share the same interest (at least in some respects). Twitter also is one of my inspirational sources for blogging, and vice versa it is an outlet for my blog posts.

Unfortunately, Twitter has one shortcoming: Tweets are volatile. Twitter is designed to catch conversations real time. Therefore it is not easy to “keep” Tweets or read them later. Usually your tweets get lost after 7 to 10 days and cease to be found by  Twitter Search. Some tweets can still be Googled, but that is not a secure way of keeping tweets.

At least I safeguard my favorited tweets by taking a RSS to my favs (yellow starred in Fig).

But this is just a way to conserve your favorite tweets for a (more) prolonged time.

What you also would like is to “archive” the URLs of the actual pages that seem interesting (the red http links in the tweets).

I used Google Notebook for that. That was near perfect: the free online Google application allowed saving and organizing clips of information (via a Firefox add-on) while online (see Wikipedia). The information was saved to “notebooks” that could be made “public” and automatically fed into Twitter to share with others. It was easy tracing articles back by searching or browsing.

But that is no more. Google decided to drop the development of Google Notebook. In addition, several of of my notebooks  were flagged as violating Program Policies?!

I tried Evernote as an alternative, but it could never win my heart. Too time-consuming, for one thing.

I may not have tried hard enough, but testing tools is not my job. I ‘m just looking for tools/ways that make my live in the web 2.0 world easy. The tools must be easy to understand and easy to use.

A new tool Packrati.us. (http://packrati.us/) seems to meet all my needs in this respect. A week ago, I read about it in a Tech Crunch paper entitled:  Packrati.us: A Dead Simple Way To Make Delicious Bookmark The Links You Tweet. Dead simple that was what I needed!

Packrati.us is a simple bookmarking service. Once you register, they follow your Twitter feed, and whenever one of your tweets contains URLs, they are added to your Delicious.com bookmarks.

So, for instance I retweeted @amcunningham and @jrbtrip, who link to an interesting article regarding bias in dissemination & publication of research. The link is a shortened URL.

When I visit My Delicious (http://delicious.com/) via an add-on in Firefox, I see that the link is automatically saved in Delicious.

The bookmark shows

  1. the link to the URL (title),
  2. the number of people bookmarking the link,
  3. the actual tweet mentioned in notes (more notes can be added),
  4. the extended url,
  5. an automatic tag (packrati.us) chosen to indicate that this bookmark is automatically imported from Twitter and other tags that I manually added to facilitate retrieval.

When you click on the link you go to the actual article. I can always find the bookmark when I search for tags like bias

The following links can be automatically loaded into Delicious:

  • Links in your tweets and retweets (tweets you resend)
  • Links in tweets directed to you (send by others)
  • Links in your favorited tweets (!) (quite new)

You can choose to:

  • Expand the URLs that have been shortened with an URL shortening service
  • Replace existing bookmarks (no duplication, old tags are kept.
  • Not convert hashtags from tweets to tags for the bookmarks (default = tagging hashtags)
  • Exclude tweets with specific tags (new)
  • Exlude tweets from a selection of sources
  • Add the sender of the tweet (other than yourself)

Packrati.us is under continuous development, some features have just been added. I love the new feature that favorited tweets can be kept (alas it doesn’t work retrospectively, so the above favs are not included).

In practice you can get a lot of bookmarks if you tweet/favorite a lot. It is good to exclude some tweets beforehand and imo necessary to prune the tweets afterwards and add tags. Otherwise it becomes a (disorderly) mess.

Although Packrati.us links only Twitter and Delicious, you can use each platform separately. I also use Delicious to manually add bookmarks of websites I like. Yes, thanks to Packrati.us I learned to love delicious again.

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