3 min read

Bookmarking is a misunderstood problem

Thoughts on a new bookmarking platform.

We do not need apps to help us hoard more links. We need tools to help us consume information when we need it, where we need it, and in the right format.

In August 2020, I launched a simple Twitter bookmarking tool called Markfolder. It's a simple browser extension that lets you save tweets into folders, and search them with keywords.

Why? Because I thought Twitter's poor bookmarking feature was due to its lack of ways to organise your bookmarks, or even to search for them. So I thought the answer was more organisational features - e.g. folders and a search box.

Hundreds of folders and thousands of bookmarks later, my bookmarking experience only improved marginally. Yes, searching for saved tweets is 100x quicker with Markfolder, but:

  1. I still needed to search for those saved tweets.
  2. They're not always where I need them.
  3. They're not in the format that I need them to be.

I still needed to search for tweets

"Wasn't there a tweet about this"? would usually be the prompt to then go into Markfolder and search for it.

Then it's "hmm... which folder did I put it in"? Or "what was the word they used to describe that...".

Smarter searching features could help with this, but it's not always about keywords. What about images? Or videos? (Here's where image or video categorisation with AI can help, perhaps).

They're not always where I need them

I still needed to open my browser, go into Markfolder, and look for them. Ideally, I won't even need to search for them. They just surface where I need them.

Need to recall tweets when writing a blog post? Then why not have my bookmarks already there next to my editor, perhaps in a side panel, ready to be accessed?

Need to show saved tweets on a "wall of love"? Why not just embed that folder in your website and have the bookmarks appear automatically?

Need to save them so you can reply to them or follow up later? They should automatically go into your scheduler or CRM.

The bookmarks should automatically surface where you need them.

They're not in the format that I need them to be

Twitter is primarily a text-based medium, but there could be many difference types of media attached to each tweet.

At the time of writing, Markfolder has 3000 users and almost 600,000 bookmarked tweets. What I've realised from user feedback is that users need different ways to view their bookmarks, based on the content and media in those tweets. For example:

  • A gallery view to view the images in the saved tweets
  • A decent video player to view videos in the tweets
  • Playlists for audio clips

And lots more.

So it's more than just bookmarking. It's about how we consume those bookmarks. And that's the hard part of creating bookmarking solutions.

Where and how you consume your bookmarks should match the medium and context your need to consume them.

This means support for multiple ways to surface and display those bookmarks, and the content within them.

As for Markfolder, I will be re-shaping its future into a bookmarking "platform".

Markfolder will continue to make it easy for anyone to bookmark tweets, but expand it to allow bookmarking of anything on the web that has a URL.

But more than that, I will focus on better ways to consume bookmarks. I.e. to "do more with bookmarks" (thanks to Cathy Rafaelle for the phrasing), with different views, automation, and better ways of sharing your bookmarks.

Additionally, an API for 3rd party apps, to cater for yet unforeseen ways to consume bookmarks.

You can follow me on Twitter to follow my progress in building a new bookmarking platform.