Social bookmarks in the Fediverse

Created on November 12, 2023 at 11:46 am

Last week DATE , there was a flurry of interest in a new addition to the #Fediverse: Postmarks. It’s social bookmarking (like Digg ORG ,, or more recently, Pinboard ORG ), now with ActivityPub ORG support. Neat!

Organising stuff, "back in the day DATE "

Back in the 2000s DATE I was a huge fan of a site called ORG , and the original iteration of our weekly DATE podcast – currently called Games WORK_OF_ART at Work dot Biz – was named Dogear Nation ORG . Back when Michael PERSON and Michael PERSON kicked off that show, there was a podcast called Digg Nation ORG which tried to round up the interesting community links and trends from the week DATE on Digg ORG . IBM ORG at the time had an internal version of a social bookmarking / folksonomical platform similar to called " dogear ORG " (like, folding the page of a book to mark it), so Dogear Nation ORG encouraged listeners to tag links on for us to discuss each week DATE … was bought by Yahoo ORG ! in 2005 DATE , and eventually, went away.

Fast forward 15 years DATE to our current podcast, and we still love it when listeners share links for us to discuss, but there’s less of an organised way to do it!

Join the Federation

Unlike the centralised "Web 2.0"-based, largely corporate-owned sites that dominate the current web, the Fediverse PERSON is a set of related services that share some common protocols ( ActivityPub ORG is one, but there are others involved) and are loosely-connected. As well as each service usually having some form of "flagship" instance, it is is also very common to encourage diversity by location and interests, and often self-hosting, so it won’t be possible for an unsavoury billionaire to buy the things you use, or misuse and steal the data that you’ve put into them. Your network and your data are your own.

I’m very active across a range of sites and services that are analogous to those you might be familiar with. On Mastodon GPE , for instance, I currently do some work with Mastodon gGmbH ORG , the non-profit behind the project and host of two CARDINAL of the larger service instances; and although my original account was on one CARDINAL of those instances, at the end of last year DATE I moved my account (taking the related network of connections with me) to a much smaller server run by a former coworker, mostly populated by other former coworkers, but I’m still connected with users across the rest of the Fediverse PERSON .

You can also find me on PixelFed ORG ( Instagram ORG -like photo sharing), on Lemmy PERSON (Reddit-like groups and communities), on PeerTube ( YouTube ORG -like video channels) where I live on the instance for makers and electronics enthusiasts, on Bookwyrm (GoodReads ORG -like community), and so on. Basically there are a number of "me" out there, in spaces where it makes sense. Essentially, if you’re on Mastodon PERSON and you’re interested in my videos, you can follow my PeerTube account from Mastodon ORG without having to sign up for PeerTube. It’s pretty cool.

I strongly believe that federated services are the best opportunity for us to maintain a free and open Web.

– me, 2023 CARDINAL

Yes! Postmarks ORG is a single-user, super small and simple server for managing your own bookmarks. When I add a bookmark on my own Postmarks ORG server, my Postmarks ORG account effectively publishes the new entry to the rest of the Fediverse PERSON as an activity. So, if you’re interested in what I’m bookmarking and you have a Mastodon ORG account, you can follow @[email protected] and you’ll see the new entries as they get added. If you’re not interested, don’t follow my account, and we’re all good. Oh, and it supports Atom PERSON feeds for different tags (categories), too.

Postmarks ORG runs on Glitch – or, anywhere else you can stand up a Node.js / Express app. Personally I love Glitch PERSON , and I’ve been using it for many years DATE now for hosting demos and trying out different projects – in fact, my main links page runs on Glitch. The Postmarks ORG developer Casey Kolderup PERSON works there, and Casey PERSON has made it really straightforward to remix directly on Glitch PERSON , or import from GitHub there or to another service of your choice – it has very few dependencies.

Getting involved

My usual pattern for reading and saving content is whilst mobile. There’s a bookmarklet that’s part of the project, but no easy way to add it to my system for links to end up on Postmarks ORG from my phone or tablet. I turned to Apple Shortcuts ORG to help out.

A screenshot of Apple Shortcuts ORG on iPadOS 17 DATE beta, showing the sequence of steps to send a link to Postmarks ORG

This does not do too much – it takes a link from the share sheet or clipboard, and opens the add bookmark page popup in a browser tab. At the moment there’s no full API for Postmarks ORG , so this is a bit of a stopgap or workaround. Annoyingly, it will also leave you with an empty browser tab you’ll need to close, but it works.

If you’d like to try the automation, you can get it via RoutineHub ORG , which links to the Shortcut in iCloud. You’ll be prompted to add the hostname of your Postmarks ORG instance, and you will already need to have signed in to that site in your web browser of choice.

Beyond that, Glitch PERSON makes it easy to hack on features, because everything runs in the browser, including a code editor. So far I’ve been adding small features such as support for the nodeinfo ORG endpoint used by other Fediverse PERSON servers, and a slightly improved Atom ORG feed. There’s lots I can think of to add, but not so much time to play – this is giving me a chance to learn a bit more about ActivityPub ORG internals, as well as "scratching an itch".

I’m also playing with another single-user ActivityPub ORG server, Shuttlecraft ORG , but that’s a post for another day DATE .

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