Social Media

Scuttle, Google Reader, et al

This has not been a week for centralized services. With the announcement of the Yahoo/Microsoft partnership, I figured the writing was on the wall and decided it was time to decentralize my bookmarks. Good-bye delicious, hello Scuttle.

I don’t use a bookmark service because its part of social media. I use it because I have three computers, and I want access to the same set of bookmarks for each. To make this work, I needed some form of server-stored bookmarking service, and delicious seemed ideal.

Now, though, I’m not sure what is happening with delicious, and rather than wait until the rug is pulled out from under us, I moved my bookmarks to an open source application called Scuttle.

Scuttle is extremely easy to set up. Create a database and user, edit a couple of entries in a configuration file and ensure a subdirectory is writable, and then start up the application. The only thing the application didn’t have was a way of preventing others from creating an account. There is a Scuttle Plus that builds functionality on top of Scuttle, including search engine and user management, but all I really needed was a way of turning off user registration.

Easy as can be: all you have to do is remove the register.php file. Then if someone clicks the Register link in the page, nothing happens. Sure it’s not the most elegant workaround, but it works.

Scuttle has pop-up links that can be added to browser toolbars, and I like the look of it more than delicious. I really don’t care how many other people are linked to a site, or what keywords are used. I just want a way of sharing bookmarks between my computers.

I had barely finished my implementation of Scuttle when I was hit with another one: Newsgator is no longer providing centralized support for its feed reader, NetNewsWire. Instead, you have to get a Google Reader account, and sync a new version of the tool with the Reader service as back end.

I used NetNewsWire for the same reason I used delicious: I wanted an application that used a centralized service to maintain feed syncing between my two Mac computers. However, I haven’t been able to find an elegant workaround for replacing a centralized feed aggregator with something on my own, at least not yet.

I have moved my feed subscriptions to Google Reader, but I can’t stand the site. It is badly designed: cluttered, takes up too much space, hard to easily traverse your unread feeds. It is true that it seems like feeds and aggregators have gone the way of the dodo, with the advent of Twitter and the concept of “Blurb it!” rather than “Link it!”. But I do still like to read longer works, read the works of those few who are still weblogging rather than just Twittering, and catch the occasional actual linked story rather than URL shortened misdirected mess that we have at Twitter.

I could use NetNewsWire to access the Reader data, except the new version doesn’t work with Tiger, so won’t work with one of my computers. I could also just read feeds on one computer only, and set it up with NetNewsWire, synced or not, but I like the flexibility of my current system. So now I’m looking at options, as with Scuttle, for hosting my own feed aggregator that has a web interface, so I can read feeds from all my computers.

Suggestions on open source self-hosting feed aggregators with clean user interface would be welcome.

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