On Bookmarks, Information Scattering, and Lost Learning

#bookmarks #ADHD #selfhosting #organization #workingknowledge #asktheFediverse

In the nearly 23 years that I have been using the Internet, I can only recall a brief time when I was able to bookmark some information, keeping my most needed links omnipresent on the browser toolbar and everything else in a reasonable menu tree with a somewhat reasonable structure of topic and subtopics. Only a few oddballs put scratches on a near picture perfect hierarchy. They wanted to fit everywhere or not fit in a group at all. Sometimes these lingered in a uninspiring temporary folder. The setup was easy to add to, remove from, or even reflow when things just seemed to need some tweaking.

For a couple of years, it was persistent through multiple platforms, distro hopping, software testing, and careless errors. Bookmarks were backed up, synced, and even limited to the devices I needed them and not overloading the eyes with clutter on devices that they were not need on . I could keep work away from home and home away from work. By adding these role contexts , it kept unwanted judgmental, prying, or even glancing eyes from generating unneeded narratives and tainted environments of discomfort, false assessments, and ostracizing gossip. I mean, if you have anxiety issues, why put a button to be pushed that would exponentially cause added suffering.

The system was nearly perfect except for two flaws. The first was blatant while the other only became understood in extended use. First off, the system was closed source, stored on remote servers not within my control. My ability to access my accumulated research, curiosities, and guilty pleasures was at both my ability to continue to pay for the service and the whims of the provider to continue the service and to continue it under the same terms in which I chose to become a client. Should the business shutdown, be taken over, or decide to change directions what happens to my collection and how do I maintain that collection without the tools that helped structure and access?

As those fears mounted, I kept trying to find a viable escape route that would lead me away from being a hostage. Many of searches on Github, tech sites, and casual inquiries of my peers led me nowhere. Yet, I had to be free in that nowhere so I discontinued the service and have been lost ever since. The service was Xmarks, formerly known as Foxmarks. It was owned by Lastpass. That company has since been sold and as of May 2018, the service no longer exists. I was not thrown overboard, I just abandoned ship with no viable flotation device or port of safety. Information became disjointed, lost by lack of a backup strategy, and even forgotten in the growing catchall folder. I was swimming with no direction for what I needed. To this day, I still have not recovered a fraction of what I had discovered and meticulously fought to preserve connection to.

Furthermore, there was design flaw in the system that only started to make itself known after the system had extended use. As more information and structure was piped in, the quiet void began to take hold. This flaw later would claim multiple ill-planned drive wipes and overwrites by older copies. That flaw was that the service and software did not take in account a condition of the end-user. That condition was long denied and even blinded the end-user from reaping the full value of information management. That condition was ADHD.

It was not enough to be able to capture information, filter it, and make a place for it. The information had to be woken up now and then, stir its way out the depths for it to be acted upon. Without a means of bringing to light the jewels of information buried under structure and shallow more visible paths. It is perpetually living in the unaware existence of Schrodinger's Cat that defines experienced existence. On a conscious level, I have no perception of the box with the cat. The lack of perception is so powerful and encompassing that, for me, the box does not exist. The idea that such a box could have existed does not exist either. There is no residual marker in the mind to raise the questions: “Where did the box go? Was there a box here? What did I do with the box? What was in the box?”. To put it another way, it is The Nothing. It is not a gap in mind, a hole in time. Those would be something. There is simply nothing.

Out of sight. Out of mind. My collection of links and notations don't exist nor do they have any memory of existence if they are not readily visible. It is like the rotting package of spinach in the crisper drawer because someone moved it off the main shelf where I had a constant reminder of it.

I have tried Wallabag. I like the idea of keeping a cached copy of a site a long with tags and the url. I like the idea of being able to export a page or article to PDF and then upload it to my e-ink reader for a more comfortable reading. I like Shaarli for the ability to tag, make public links, write descriptions, and search. I have played around with Buku a bit as well. They all fail in some key point in use. They do not integrate well into both a desktop and mobile device workflow. They suffer from the same ADHD flaw of piling up and pushing things out of actionable view. In earlier times I had used Firefox Sync, but it suffers from the third-party issue and from what I have read the selfhosted setup is kind of a frustrating mess.

What options are out there? What have you found that works for you? Was is your general or ADHD solution to managing online information sources?

Thank you in advance, dear #Fediverse.