Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

07 Mar 2023, 13:10 p.m.

The Memex Mirage

In case you use Pinboard, heads-up that you might want to hedge your bets. An Ask MetaFilter conversation from the last few months: "Is (bookmarking site) still supported software?"


In December, Lilly Ryan wrote a Fediverse thread about the difficulty of systematically managing information we find via the web. We've had the design goal of the memex since Vannevar Bush wrote a spec in 1945, yet:

it sure is A Thing that we don’t have a clear, accessible solution to the problem of personal information management, given that it was a major point of personal computing and the Web to begin with.

Ryan also requests:

Knowledgeable people: tell me about your workflows and why they work for you! Link me to articles and resources that dig deeper into these issues so I can lose myself in reading more about it!

so please do so by replying to that thread.

But even if you don't -- please know that you are not alone. Managing your bookmarks is tedious and hard and you likely do not have tools that would make this part of your life properly manageable.

Because this post is also a followup to "It's Not Just You.", where I said:

...a ton of fiddly expensive-if-you-make-a-mistake labor has emerged or shifted onto the middle class's shoulders, without commensurate logistical, psychological, or financial support for that shift.....
Expectations around planning, decision speed and responsibility, and focus that used to only apply to executives with secretaries now apply to all knowledge workers. And I am struck by how many skills we are expected to have, as adults in 2019 middle-class America, that NO ONE HAS EVER HAD BEFORE, basically.
Here, manage e-mail, a.k.a. this endless TODO list that grows without your input.
Here, resist the best gambling temptation ever invented, which is on the same device you are expected to carry at all times.....

And I'd add: here, be your own librarian and archivist for a dizzying variety of formats, media, interpersonal communications platforms, etc. so you can immediately re-find that resource you ran across yesterday or ten years ago. Argh!


07 Mar 2023, 23:31 p.m.

Woah, thanks for this post! Had no idea that pinboard was on the rocks.

It's absolutely exhausting to be your own librarian and archivist in today's day and age.