Quick thoughts on Pinboard

I've been a Delicious.com user since late 2003, back when it launched. I was happy when it was sold to Yahoo as it meant (what I thought would be) a secure future. Recently, Yahoo revealed that they would like to shutter/sell the site and a rush for alternatives pushed a lot of people towards Pinboard.

I actually signed up for Pinboard about six months ago, intending to use it as a backup archive of my stuff on Delicious, with the hopes of someday using it natively. I recall being impressed that Pinboard could also pull my links out of Twitter, since I often feel guilty throwing interesting links into the wind of Twitter (Twitter is terrible at archiving and finding old tweets so I ask myself why I don't just use delicious instead of Twitter every time I drop a link there). It also pulls stuff I mark at Instapaper and stuff I share at Google Reader. Along with automatic Delicious backups, Pinboard works amazingly as a personal archiving service that lets me find old interesting sites using a variety of tags and search.

Always a but

But the site bills itself as "anti social networking" and "bookmarks for introverts". I understand some of the backlash over weird twitter/screenshots/popularity integration at Delicious, but like Twitter, on Delicious you choose your followers and once you find a couple dozen amazing web surfers marking up interesting out-of-the-way places before anyone else does, you might find like me that the /network/ feature of Delicious is a killer once-a-day visit that often leads to half a dozen interesting finds. It's odd to me that one of the principal features at Pinboard called out on their "Delicious vs. Pinboard" page is NOT being able to identify who is following you even though Pinboard will tell you how many people follow you. I found quite a number of interesting Delicious users from people that were "fans" of mine (I always liked that use of the word at Delicious, better than "follower" or "subscriber"). After the great exodus from Delicious to Pinboard last week, someone built a tool to try and locate people that migrated from one service to another, but it would have been nice if that was native to Pinboard itself.

Like I said, I can understand the reluctance to make Pinboard into yet another social media platform and I made a lot of arbitrary decisions in designing MetaFilter so that it's not gamed by morons but as a user of Delicious for the past 7 years, I've grown accustomed to the subtle network effects for the purposes of discovery and some of the features purposefully lacking in Pinboard rob it of some of that utility.

Two headed beast

So the thing I keep coming back to in thinking about Pinboard is that it's trying to be both a bookmark organizer and archive/storage place for your personal use but also a networked viewer of what your friends are saving (while lacking some functionality). It's a conflicting message to see the homepage of the site say it's anti-social and for introverts but the first few options in the site's navigation are pages of bookmarks from others: network, popular, recent.

Using the site, I find my /network/ view to be less than 100% useful, thanks to the cool archiving options mentioned earlier. If I follow someone on twitter and also at Pinboard, I'll often see links and tweets reproduced that I've read hours earlier. I've had to unfollow several people that elected to do the Twitter integration because of this, even though I myself set my account to do this (and for useful personal archive reasons). I look at my own Pinboard feed and imagine someone else reading it and there are tons of useless things in there, Twitter @replies to personal friends where I was sharing a link to something that makes no sense outside of me and that one other person on earth. Comparing my own Delicious feed to my own Pinboard feed I see this theme repeated: my Pinboard feed is personally useful, but socially uninteresting.

And there in lies the rub: Pinboard extends the functionality of Delicious to any links you drop in Twitter, sites you choose to read later at Instapaper, and interesting things you share at Google Reader, but like Instapaper, that works best as a personal archiving appliance that you use personally to dig up a story about raising kids you read six months ago at the New York Times. But when you combine extensive personal archiving with a public view mixed into a network of shared links from dozens of friends, you get a mish-mash of bookmarks, jokes from twitter, and wacky sites someone liked in Google Reader. As a personal archive tool, it's pretty impressive, as a shared space to find interesting bookmarks, it's problematic.

In the end, I'll likely continue using Delicious to track bookmarks with Pinboard as a backup/archive tool that I'll gladly continue to pay for. For now I'll continue to hit my Delicious network page to find new things and occasionally check in with the Pinboard network and popular pages to try and find stuff though I find them less useful than Delicious.

Post-Cyclocross Depression | Grit & Glimmer

How incredible is it to be able to go out once a week, sharpen yourself into a point and cut into the deep, unpretty parts of your brain.

via gritandglimmer.com

This is precisely why I love cyclocross so much. After sitting in a desk chair tapping a keyboard on the web for the past 15 years, I've found that getting onto a bike and into extreme oxygen debt for 45min each Sunday in the Fall is the most beautiful sort of pain and suffering possible and reminds me of what it feels like to be alive.

One year later, and some updates

A year ago today, I had the surprise of my life. Thanks to Charlie Park, you can relive the outpouring of support I described in my first post about the diagnosis on the site mathowielove (along with this explanation of it). I get a lot of email from people with similar health issues and from friends and family and thought I should post an update and recap how the last year has gone. 

A year in 30 seconds

Last November feels both like it was just yesterday and it was ten years ago in my mind because so much has happened. Immediately after getting out of the hospital and starting on the mend from the worst flu I'd had in years, it was just over a month later I got some good news that my tumor was shrinking thanks to a drug regimen. My other vitals were lagging behind but by March of 2010, most of my hormone levels were approaching normal and I was beginning to feel better. By Summer, I'd gotten my first not-so-great prognosis that the tumor had stalled in size and was sitting at 50% of the original size, with my hormones still bouncing back into the lower limits of normal. By mid-Summer, I started a course of human growth hormones to gain some energy but I also cut my steroid dosage in half, so the effect of each counteracted and I've felt about the same. 

Overall, after the initial joy of the tumor shrinking significantly, the rest of the time has been somewhat frustrating, as I've had to adjust to new harsh drugs and then wait for my body to react and then level off with each change. Monitoring the health effects has gone a bit slower than I'd like, with measurements taken every 3-4 months to assess my progress.

For the past several years I've been tracking my physical activity on my bike (miles ridden, heart rates, wattage pushed into my pedals) and racing off and on, and I've noticed not too much improvement this year in terms of my physical performance. My wattage numbers are up slightly, but so is my weight (significantly) so it's basically a wash and I'm about as slow as I was before the tumor diagnosis. Overall, I don't quite feel "normal" yet in terms of physical performance for a dude my age/fitness/size/etc.

The future

In a few weeks I'm doing a full day of testing, including another MRI to see where the tumor size stands, some thyroid testing to see how that is working, and some hormone tests. I'll probably have results by mid-December and I'm hoping we'll see continued stabilization/shrinkage of the tumor (growth would make surgery necessary) and figure out what is keeping my hormone levels still a bit low.

It goes without saying I've been very lucky so far and couldn't have done so well without the support of my wonderful family and friends, and for that support I thank everyone that has said and done nice things over the past year. It's really meant a lot and helped me out immensely.