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Organizing Bookmarks

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Posted by David Garner
Jul 19, 2020 at 09:52 AM


I’m seeking tools and ideas about methodologies to capture and organize information.

I’m interested in getting better at handling discovery of new projects/efforts/products/techniques.

Obviously, “Google is my friend”.  I’m not sure of the many privacy aspects associated with the Google ecosystem, but when I want to learn more about things that I run into, asking Google about it usually provides insights, even if only finding something about it on Wikipedia.

I’ve become a real fan of the Chrome bookmark functionality.  I have been using it to capture websites (URLs) for a few years now.  I find it to be a deceptively simple system.  It allows creating hierarchies of folders to organize topics.  I like that it synchronizes data between my various computing devices (PCs, Chromebooks, tablets, phones, voice assistants?) so it’s easy and convenient to capture and access the information.

In my browsers, I have the bookmarks bar turned on and I have folders to organize the places which I visit frequently.  I also have a folder named “Research”.  When I encounter a mention of a new to me: _____, I double click and copy the name of it and then right click and search Google for the name.  This then opens a new tab with the search results.  I then peruse the search results and, if there is something which seems to make sense, as a match for the desired result, I will right click on the link and open it in a new tab.

If the page which is presented, seems to contain information about the desired topic, I look to see if the bookmark “star” at the right end of the address bar is empty or filled in.  If it is empty, I click the “star” to open the bookmarking dialog and then click, in the box following the Folder label.  At the bottom of the list that appears, I click “Choose Another folder…”.  That opens another dialog showing all the bookmarks that are in my system.  I’ve found that, if I click in the blank space, in the upper right portion of the dialog, that it will navigate to the top of the outline tree.  During normal usage, that usually results in some collapsed daily usage folders, followed by the “Research” folder.  I then click on the “Research” folder and, at the bottom of the dialog, I click on the “New Folder” button. I continue by right clicking the highlighted “New Folder” text in the edit box and select “Paste”, in the right click popup dialog.  Once the name is entered in the “New Folder” text box, I click on the “Save” button at the lower right of the bookmark dialog.

The above procedure seems complicated, when you think about it as described above, but after doing it a few hundred times, it is mostly muscle memory, and takes little time to execute.  At this point, if I had time, I would review the contents of the newly bookmarked page and recursively search and bookmark any further information that seems to be of interest.  I might return to the Google search results and repeatedly open and save links to any additional pages which contain potentially interesting information. 

Following the above procedure, I’ve found that I sometimes do not recall encountering the name of the technology, but I have already bookmarked it, at some time in the past.  If I have time, I will further explore the bookmarks, for the name, and see if I can remember what I had previously discovered about the topic, or learn more about it, while it is once again in context.

The problem I have with this simple bookmarking system is that it is too simple.  I now have a bunch (thousands) of folders with information about things I’d like to learn more about but opening the Bookmark Manager is like walking into a library.  It’s not always clear where to start.  The Bookmark Manager provides the ability to sort in numerous ways, which can help see duplicated entries and make locating things more obvious, but when things are related to other things, it is not at all obvious what those relationships might be, and I’ve not figured out how to encode those types of characteristics into the simple tree view.


Posted by David Garner
Jul 19, 2020 at 10:47 AM


Anyone remember when BrainSpace (brainspace.com) had a free discovery service?  I never completely understood what it was or how it worked, but it did seem to find things which were of interest to me that I had not found in other ways. Are there other such free services still out there?


Posted by David Garner
Jul 19, 2020 at 11:01 AM


As I described above, I’m happy with using Chrome’s bookmarking system as an intake mechanism.  It seems quite flexible and powerful.  On today’s computers, it is very responsive and has had no problem manipulating the amount of data that I’ve collected over the last several years.  I can generate an HTML file containing all the links I’ve gathered, and it is easy to process that file with other programs to do interesting things with the data.

I have found a bunch of tools and systems:

Raindrop (raindrop.io) will import the bookmarks.

Refind (refind.com) will import the bookmarks.

Bublup (bublup.com) will import the bookmarks.

Worldbrain Memex will import the bookmarks and browsing history.

Wakelet (wakelet.com) has what they call bookmarks, but I don’t see any way to get all my existing bookmarks into it.

Many of them have evolved during the time that I’ve been watching them.  I’m still exploring what they will do, but so far, I’ve not identified a clear winner to help me organize and make sense of all the things which I’ve discovered and would like to better understand.

As I recall, VYM (http://www.insilmaril.de/vym/) View Your Mind, would import bookmarks and allow mind mapping.  I need to revisit that.  Wish they had a Windows version.  Maybe it will run on WSL 2?

My hope is that someone will be able to direct me to the perfect tool, or to at least help me to better define, what I really want to do, to accomplish my goal of knowing about and keeping up with all things new to me.


Posted by Dr Andus
Jul 19, 2020 at 11:41 AM


It sounds like you have an interesting and creative use of Chrome bookmarks, but it also sounds like you have reached the limits of that system and approach.

One decision is whether you want to extend or tack something onto the existing system/approach or switch to an entirely different solution (requiring some changes to the workflow).

If you’ve really reached the limits of the usefulness of the current system, you may need to switch to a different solution to be able to continue to grow the database and also to be able to analyse it.

From what you describe it seems that a web-based solution would be the most suitable for cross-platform availability.

Then there seem to be two further options: dedicated bookmark managers (the likes of Clibu Notes) or more generic online notes systems that have some kind of a clipper tool to quickly bookmark/capture URLs and additional tools to organise and annotate the content (and also to allow you to import your existing data).

In the latter category I could think of Dynalist or WorkFlowy. They both have Chrome extensions that clip content and URL (if you need to add images as well, then Dynalist is better), and then within the software you can organise things hierarchically. There are tags to annotate items further (again, Dynalist is way ahead in that regard).

Both Dynalist and WorkFlowy have losts of interesting dedicated Chrome extensions and CSS styles on https://userstyles.org/ , which you can enable via using the Stylus Chrome extension. These mainly enhance the visual usability of both software.

Another interesting tool for this would be RoamResearch, but I can’t recommend it until they add an automatic daily backup service like Dynalist and WorkFlowy have, otherwise your data would be at risk.


Posted by Donovan
Jul 19, 2020 at 03:23 PM


I use Pinboard. It solved a lot of bookmarking problems for me and I’ve now used it for years. When you save a bookmark you can use tagging, make notes/descriptions, etc. I purchase the full package at $39 a year which not only keeps your bookmarks, but archives the pages of the sites you bookmark AND the full package also includes full-text search of all pages. Truly, it’s the best $39 a year I spend on web services.


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