Most people build things out of a desire to fix a problem they see in the world. I’ll give you a for instance: I manually add books I’m reading and have read within a given year to this page. I don’t read enough books each year for this to be an issue, but recently I realized that the page was an incomplete representation of my reading habits. I read articles all the time and given my move away from social media, there is no easy way to share what I’ve recently read. So, I created this page, which auto-populates recently read articles (with the help of IFTTT and Instapaper), along with the date and time I finished reading them. This isn’t a perfect solution, but it gets the job done. My point is that I worked to build that solution because of a “missing feature” of normal life. Others could technically copy or learn from my example in solutions they conceive.
However, I often hamstring myself into thinking solutions are all about being groundbreaking or revolutionary. On the contrary, solutions just need to solve a problem; and those problems don’t even need to be universal.1 I have spent a lot of time creating scripts and automations on iOS that I never use. Some of them were good experience, some of them even solved a problem that is no longer a problem in the constant forward progress of technology. In any case, I shouldn’t stop myself from attempting to create a solution just because it only benefits me or a small subset of other people.
So let’s go build something.
Did the Internet community peak at bookmarks? Asked in a different and perhaps more complete way: just as technologies like RSS and email in their purest forms are hard to beat even as technology marches forward, what better technology exists to keep track of information on the ever-expanding Internet than bookmarks? Taken a step further, what better way to share the bookmarked information than a site of your own? As such, I‘ve been reading, which is why I write now.
Working in and having a passion for libraries, I am struck by the fact that the way bookmarks work in the physical world is not directly analogous to bookmarks in the digital world. Bookmarks in the digital world are instead like dog-eared pages or highlighted passages; if you think of the Internet as a single tome, that is. In any case, anything that moves you to deface a book should probably be shared or become immortalized in some other way than just a reference for a future version of yourself.