Hardscrabble 🍫

By Max Jacobson

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Favblogging with pinboard, ifttt, and the rest of the internet

August 26, 2012


I’m not Daring Fireball but I still like linking to stuff. This is something I’ve always struggled with. Many years ago my friends wrote a song about me and the lyrics mention all those links I’m copyin’ and pastin’.

We used to do all that on AIM. I’d read something, share it, talk about it (if I was lucky). Now I post it to Pinboard, which is mirrored on my homepage. I don’t think a lot of people look at it but I still do it. It scratches a fun little itch.

All my favorite stuff has to go somewhere I won’t lose track of it, and that’s Pinboard.


So Pinboard has a bookmarklet you can use to send pages to it and it’s fine but I rarely use it. It’s a bit too manual don’t you think? Instead I use ifttt.com to automatically send anything I love to Pinboard as a private bookmark.

Then I use the linkroll widget to display this on my homepage.

Jason Kottke made a web app called Stellar for aggregating your favorites across various social media. It wasn’t until I used this that I started reflecting on the whole purpose of Like/Fav/Hearting across the web. Stellar is really great. I wish more people I knew were on it. The idea is that I can follow you, and instead of seeing what you post like on every other site, I see what you like on every other site. It’s a bizarre and appealing premise. It’s frustratingly limited to just a few social media networks (Twitter, Youtube, Vimeo, Flickr) and doesn’t seem like it’s being actively developed, but it’s great. Part of what’s great about it is that it works passively. Even though I haven’t checked Stellar in months, my page has been kept up-to-date due to my remaining active on those four networks.

Alas, no one I know uses Stellar (or Pinboard for that matter), which is why I’ve been copying the same kind of content elsewhere, where someone someday may see it. Or at least I will.

Because I find this stuff interesting, I was initially excited about the Mac app Favs. It lets you hook in to all the usual suspects of social networks and browse your favs. But it didn’t resonate as useful to me, because new items were marked as unread which I found curious, because of course I’ve already “read” these… how else could I have already marked these as my favorites? That paradigm would only be useful if, Stellar-like, Favs allowed me to subscribe to others’ favorites, not my own. And it does, but only for some services, and it felt a little off and difficult to use for some reason. I appreciate how it’s pitched:

Find Favorites

Instead of spreading your favorites across different networks, use Favs to sync them to your Mac. Don’t waste any more time on searching for your favorite content - Favs has a powerful search feature build right into the application that makes finding what you like a breeze.

Which is great but that’s what I use Pinboard for already and I’m very satisfied with that.

Follow Favorites

Many favorites are public, for example on Twitter. This allows you to follow the favorites of persons you like and just see their hand-picked articles. For those sources Favs marks new entries as ‘unread’ and you can use Favs as a sophisticated Reader app.

Which is closer to what I want: basically a Mac Stellar app. I may have to give this one another chance. My consumption of others’ favs is minimal to non-existent, so I should similarize my expectations for others’ interest in my favs.

A curious phenomenon: I’ll often fav a thing in the heat of the moment, and then later on when browsing my private Pinboard looking for things to make public and share, I decide it’s either not worth sharing (it’s depreciated in value somehow) or it’s just too personal to me and my interests and no one else will care. It’s the difference between the stellar firehose (especially notoriously fav-happy people like Anil Dash) and a more curated linkblog. I probably fav 50 tweets for every one I retweet.

So why fav?


The way I see it, there are three reasons to fav something.

  1. To send your compliments to the chef; to give some kudos; to pat someone on the back and say “good job”
  2. to bookmark it because you love it so much you would hate to lose track of it in the swirling streams of internet
  3. To re-share it to your people – think the Twitter “Discovery” page, or the Instagram “news” page, the Pinboard public page

I don’t like a limp fav. I want something to happen. I want to send a positive blast of emotions to whoever made the thing. I want to spread the good word.

YouTube’s fav paradigm is kind of interesting. I can Like or Dislike a video (thumbs up or down), which I never do. I favorite videos. I favorite a lot of videos. I’m not sure the video creator even sees that (though it is listed publicly), but I prefer it because there are APIs for things like ifttt to turn that into a trigger that does something for me. Likes/Dislikes are an anonymous little tug of war. There’s no point… except to win.

I also rarely Like posts on Facebook, because the usually-private nature of the posts means the hooks just aren’t there, and probably shouldn’t be. That’s purely a kudos situation and maybe I’m just too selfish to give that.

I know a lot of people who never favorite anything on the internet. I’m sure to some people, favoriting means something entirely different (some of the most popular ifttt recipes are to take the links from favorited tweets, and send those to Instapaper. That’s crazy to me. You should just get TweetBot which has native send-to-Instapaper functionality).

I like that all of these services have a button that amounts to I SPURT LOVE but for this probably-OCD bubbula, I need all of that to be in one place, whether anyone else is getting anything out of it or not.

I’ll give the final word to Rob Delaney:

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