Some interesting links I’ve encountered over the past week or two.

And now some techie stuff:

  • Interesting idea: extracts links posted by Twitter and Facebook accounts you follow, then creates a daily newspaper page featuring headlines, links and excerpts from the top stories.
  • Thomas Hawk’s Open Letter to Carol Bartz, CEO Yahoo Inc. on why Yahoo! should consider Flickr a core product.

Edit: Not a link, but I should mention: between a bug in Akismet and me not having time to go through it, I ended up with more than 2,000 comments in the spam folder just from the last 3 weeks. I don’t have time to look through that many items for false positives, so I just cleared it all out. If you left a legitimate comment that hasn’t shown up on the site, I apologize.

For the longest time, I figured Twitter was little more than a social toy. But after signing up two months ago, I’ve completely changed my view. Here are five lessons I’ve picked up.

1. There are many ways to use it.

Twitter asks the question, “What are you doing?” Some people answer that, and post things like, “eating dinner.” Some people ignore it and post other thoughts. Among the uses I’ve seen:

  • Running commentary throughout the day.
  • Random thoughts.
  • Announcements, particularly bloggers announcing new posts, or news sites announcing new articles.
  • Hey, look at this link I found. (The classic linkblogging post.)
  • Conversations with other users.
  • Even a story told one line at a time. (@Othar, a side story connected to Girl Genius)

It can replace a blog, or complement it.  Mine started out just as another feed for updates, but I quickly realized I could post small stuff on Twitter and save the blog for the long posts like this one.

I’ve seen some people who post 20 times a day, and others who post once or twice a month.

2. Writing short posts can be liberating.

You don’t need to think of a catchy title. You don’t need to worry about structure. You don’t need to worry about fully developing an idea. And the rapid-fire nature of the site gives you a sense that you’re only worrying about now. No one expects you to be profound. All you have to do is jot down your thought and fire it off.

3. Writing short posts can be frustrating.

One of my high school teachers used to quote this adage: “If I had had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.” It’s easy to ramble. It’s hard to edit. And it’s really easy to run into that 140-character limit, especially if you’re including a link (even if you use a URL shortening service like

Sometimes I think what I want to say is short enough to fit, but I find myself spending several minutes trying to rephrase it, use shorter words, cut out unnecessary phrases, and, if I have to, abbreviate words just to cram it into that tiny space.

On the plus side, the result is usually very concise.

Continue reading

Wow! Songs Not to Play at a Wedding has been one of our more popular posts for a long time, and I’d seen hits start coming in from StumbleUpon, a social bookmarking site, about a week ago. But that was a trickle. I wasn’t prepared to check my stats at lunch today and see 1,112 visits from StumbleUpon (here’s the review page) since 5pm yesterday (WordPress’ daily stats rotate at midnight GMT), with another 632 the day before. Continue reading

I finally got around to setting up convenient links to a couple of social bookmarking sites. At first I resisted the idea, figuring regular users probably have bookmarklets or extensions that take care of it. But social networking sites have casual users, too, and posting a few small icons is a subtler form of self-promotion than putting up a giant banner that says, “Hey! Submit this #$!@ story to ____ now!”

I ended up using Sociable, a plugin for WordPress that already knows the right link formats for several dozen such sites.

Of course, since Sociable provides links for so many sites, the obvious question becomes: Which sites do I include? I don’t want to post all 25—that would just be a jumble of icons, hardly usable (never mind aesthetic!)

I settled on five to start with:

  • is my online bookmark service of choice. I still manage a lot of bookmarks locally, but this lets me share a set between multiple browsers at home and work.
  • Digg seems to be the leading service for actually sharing and discussing links these days.
  • Fark wasn’t on my list at first, but then I realized that I make funny/weird posts here all the time. Some of them would fit right in.
  • Reddit is new to me, but it popped up a couple of times when I went looking through sites that I read.
  • Yahoo MyWeb I mainly added out of name recognition.

What social bookmarking sites (if any) do you use?