I’ve been having a lot of fun playing with my Scout Portal. My partner recently joined me in the enterprise, because it just seems to be a better way to collect information from the web. Actually, anyone could join in if they wanted—though I suspect that no one would really want to. Such portals are at their best when they are personal. For a long time, I’ve been inspired by Mark Wood s approach. I like the idea of providing excerpts from linked material, to give a person a real reason to click through.
I’ve got a lot more work to do on the templates, but Scout Portal is really functional right out of the box (distribution archive). It think it’s the perfect combination of both piling and sorting strategies. I take the “writing” I do on my weblog seriously, but I’m not so discriminate in my link collecting. The major problem with just bookmarking things is that they have to be placed in folders—which means that you have to remember what folder you put it in. Just the process of doing it (following surftrails) has a poetry all its own, especially the way Mark does it. However, I can’t guarantee any such coherence in this effort—especially with a co-author involved. We’re separate people, and we debated the issue because she didn’t want to be constrained by my “brand.”
We decided to do it together because we have strange confluences in our research. It’s kind of nice to see what each other are up to. The advantage, as I see it, to the Scout Portal layout is that it allows both for chronological exploration (like a weblog, with the newest stuff at the top of the pile) and the later “sorting” of the material into non-exclusive topical piles. That’s the key, I think—a certain happy promiscuity to the categories. The taxonomy need not be rigid and exclusive—you need not choose a single category for the material you add. If you like you can create new taxonomies that do not require the negation of the older ones.
But mostly, it’s just fun—sleuthing out long-lost bookmarks and adding new ones at the same time. The only thing I wish Scout Portal had was a routine to test the links so that dead ones could be removed easily—something that Gossamer Threads Links 2.0 does pretty well.