When I mothballed my InfoWorld blog and moved in here, I decided not to use WordPress categories but instead to continue the del.icio.us-based method I’d been using before. Of the many strategies woven together in my use of del.icio.us, two principal ones are keeping track of stuff in general, and keeping track of my own stuff. In terms of the latter, I like to be able to answer a question like this:
Where is your collection of articles about how to do screencasting?
With an answer like this:
If I relied on WordPress categories, the scope of such a query would be restricted to my WordPress blog. Because I use del.icio.us tags instead, the scope can include my old blog, my new blog, essays I’ve published elsewhere, and of course material from anywhere else on the web.
So that was the plan, but when I switched blogs I never got around to adapting my tagging workflow to the new setup. After a while I began to realize that I couldn’t answer questions with URLs because none of my recent items were queryable in that way.
So I went through and tagged all the items in this blog, from January to August, in a single blitz. That might sound like an insurmountable task but really it isn’t. I exported the blog to a file, captured just the titles and links, and opened those up in a browser. Then I grabbed items in batches of twenty or so, opened them into tabs, and worked through them. It took an hour and a half. Being the tagaholic that I am, it wasn’t just an exercise in drudgery. I appreciated the opportunity to reflect on the evolution of my tag vocabulary.
At the time I did worry about how this would look to somebody watching my del.icio.us tagstream. And for good reason. Here’s how it looked to Chris Muscarella:
Jon Udell tags his own things almost exclusively. That’s lame.
Historically that’s not true, but recently it looks that way, and in any case it’s a fair comment. When you mix personal information management with publishing, the lines can get blurry.
On reflection I realized that I’d made things worse by including my del.icio.us links in the blog’s sidebar. On my old blog, I filtered these to not include my own postings, which are all identified with the tag jonudell. (And eerily, although that blog is mothballed, it is still syndicating my current non-personal del.icio.us links.) I could probably do that here as well, but not with the WordPress del.icio.us widget. It offers a filter for tag inclusion:
Show only these tags (separated by spaces):
But there’s no filter for tag exclusion — e.g., everything not tagged jonudell. So I’ve yanked that widget for now. Come to think of it, that same exclusion filter would useful for my del.icio.us feed. Should WordPress and del.icio.us add these features? Perhaps. Then again, this is exactly the sort of thing a general purpose syndication bus ought to be able to do for us.