Ugg, I don’t remember these short winter days ever bothering me much in the past, but this year it seems like the darkness makes my eyelids heavy every evening. I have a feeling that I won’t have another good in-depth post until December 21st when the days start getting longer. Fortunately, though, the past few days in Louisville have been warm. Add to that the beautiful full moon and I’m refreshed for another Tuesday Zep.
This week, I thought I’d share a few websites off the beaten path that I visit almost every day. Plenty of people recommend popular websites to visit daily, but I’ve found some indie alternatives that are even more useful—namely PopUrls, HuffPost, and Friendbinder.
- PopUrls “is the dashboard for the latest web-buzz, a single page that encapsulates up-to-the-minute headlines from the most popular sites on the internet” (reads their About page). “Rather than a tool, popurls is considered as a gate to a highly selective collection of the most popular sites, presented in a usable way for every device & service.” While you can log in to customize the site, it’s just fine the way it is, no matter what computer you’re using. It’s probably one of the few one-page websites that you can visit daily or even hourly and still get new content. I enjoy browsing YouTube, Flickr, Redditt (I used Digg more often in the past before they went downhill), Delicious, Engadget, BoingBoing, Wired, Twitter, etc. etc. but PopUrls aggregates the best from all of these, and likely from your favorite news/buzz website, too, if I didn’t already mention it.
- The Huffington Post (HuffPost) is my go-to news site for up-to-the-minute editorial coverage of current events. They’ve created a unique blend of a traditional news site leveraged with the power of social networks like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter to make it easy to find relevant content quickly.
- Friendbinder is a truly “indie” website, basically run by one guy: Richard Cunningham. “Friendbinder brings together your friends from different social networks. It lets you keep track of all your friends in one place, lets you post updates and replies, saving you time. (Your friends don’t even need to join!)” The site hasn’t changed much since February when I took this screenshot:
If that’s note geeky enough for you, follow me on a tangent. Friendbinder brings me to a subject that I happen to have read two articles about this week: decentralizing the world wide web. The first was written by Cunningham. The second by Tim Berners-Lee (credited with inventing the web in 1990) on Scientific American yesterday. I’ve made mention in the past of decentralizing your internet identity from the corporate giants, but Berners-Lee explains it better:
Facebook, LinkedIn, Friendster and others typically provide value by capturing information as you enter it: your birthday, your e-mail address, your likes, and links indicating who is friends with whom and who is in which photograph. The sites assemble these bits of data into brilliant databases and reuse the information to provide value-added service—but only within their sites….
As has been the case since the Web began, continued grassroots innovation may be the best check and balance against any one company or government that tries to undermine universality. GnuSocial and Diaspora are projects on the Web that allow anyone to create their own social network from their own server, connecting to anyone on any other site. The Status.net project, which runs sites such as identi.ca, allows you to operate your own Twitter-like network without the Twitter-like centralization.
I’ve been meaning to take the time to install Diaspora or ThinkUp (a similar social networking app) to get away from dumping my online activity into the hands of corporate dataminers. FriendFeed is currently the only way that I’ve been able to claim my activity across the web and publish it on the sidebar of Zepfanman.com—but it’s not easily searchable, and I’m sure Facebook (which bought FriendFeed over a year ago) doesn’t plan to improve upon it. I’ll report back to you when I’ve discovered a solution that makes it easy for you to implement your own social network that connects to anyone on any other site (as paraphrased from Berners-Lee above).
Until next week… have a Happy Thanksgiving, America!
Can I get a “What What“?