Notes from underground

يارب يسوع المسيح ابن اللّه الحيّ إرحمني أنا الخاطئ

Web Trackers

There’s a lot of interesting and useful stuff on the web, but how do you keep track of it, and find it again when you need it?

There’s that article that someone linked to on Facebook. It looks interesting, but you don’t have time to read it all now, so you want to be able to find it later.

It was for precisely such things that the blog was invented. The word “blog” comes from “web log” — a log of web sites one has visited and wants to remember, and possibly share with others. And I have just such a blog: Simple Links. And now, after trying all sorts of other things to keep track of web sites, I’ve come back to the blog as the simplest and most reliable method.

There have been many fancy apps for keeping track of web articles, but they all eventually seem to lose functionality and die, or no longer work as they should.

One of these was the web bookmark. For a while I used one called Diigo, which was quite good, but then it got hidden behind a paywall, so was no longer an option for poor pensioners like me.

Then there was Tumblr, which seemed very versatile and easy to use. It could instantly record a web site, it could aggregate blogs, it could include notes about almost anything. But then it gradually lost functionality until there was nothing left. The only thing it can be used for now is for posts to say how useless it is. And it’s useless for logging web sites visited because the pop-up linker has a button that must be clicked to save the item, but the button is invisible, hidden below the bottom of the screen.

Then along came Evernote, It would allow you to save a complete copy of the article and find it again. It was like the OneNore program that came with Microsoft Office, but more versatile. I even managed to find and buy a manual for it. Evernote was the  best of all, because you could bookmark or blog an article from the web, and the web site would close and your link would not work any more. But Evernote saved a local copy of the article so you would still have it even if the original web site closed.  But Evernote too gradually began to lose functionality. It would work if you were very rich, and could afford to buy a new computer every couple of years. But if you couldn’t, it would just stop working. So now, while I can still save articles on my laptop computer, I can no longer call them up on my desktop computer, because it will no longer sync them. And no doubt the day will come when it will stop working on my laptop too.

So it’s back to Blogger, and my Simple Links blog.

I’ve had lots of complaints about Blogger. Reduced functionality has made it more difficult to use, especially for graphics (you now have to fiddle with the HTML code in order to place pictures on the page), and so I moved two of my blogs where I wanted to use graphics, including this one, to WordPress, which had a better editor for graphics. But for the original purpose of blogging, a simple text web log, Blogger is hard to beat.

So when I see a web article I don’t have time to read now, but want to read or refer to later, I don’t book mark it. I don’t (or can’t) save it in Evernote, I go back to basics and blog it with Blogger.



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3 thoughts on “Web Trackers

  1. Another way is to print the webpage to a pdf using Chrome. I then save the pdf in Endnote which is meant to be a citation manager for academic papers, but it works very well as a pdf file manager. If you do not have a license for Endnote, Zotero is another citation manager which works very well.

  2. You could also try Pocket (Read It Later) to save a copy of a web page, it remains in the app even after the page no longer exists on the web.
    I like the possibility of saving links directly from Twitter. The only problem I see is that search is by title or URL, one needs the paid version to search within the full text. But apparently Instapaper allows that for free, plus notes and highlights, so I might start using that… What is the advantage of using Blogger? I’m not particularly pleased with Pocket because I don’t have the text search, but surely adding links to a blog is more complicated than using an app?

  3. I bookmark my links. Granted it is not the full text – but I can save a strategic quote in a document.

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