Trail Fire

I came across Trailfire recently. I am not usually taken in by these social bookmarking things, but I have to admit I am finding this incarnation of 2.0 widgetty goodness quite compelling. All the other social bookmarking tools out there promote the individual webpage as the most important aspect of a good find. They don’t celebrate the trail to get there.

Trailfire celebrates the trail.

Invoking this quick to use plug-in for Firefox or IE I can blaze a trail through the Internet (they call them ‘marks’, but ‘blazes’ is more accurate in trail building lingo and has an energy that ‘marks’ and ‘marking’ just doesn’t–I’m calling their marketing guys), at each stop recording my thoughts on a particular page–why I blazed it. Find a page, blaze it; find the next page, blaze it; then a few more pages till I have an entire saved and named trail for others to follow. I send you the URL that tracks the path I just created or link to it in a post. This new trail guides you through a particular argument I might be trying to make or just a series of related topics I have strung together for your pleasure. And if you happen to think that I have a knack for trails that suit your tastes you can find them here.

My first reaction is that this tool will be a great way for teachers to organize a guided Internet curriculum for students, but the truth is that it’s great for anyone who wants to give context to their content or just to highlight more than one interesting page at a time. Sure, you could blaze an extended brainfart of unrelated topics and pages, but why would you? Out here in the real world trails go somewhere or at the very least by something interesting. I think the natural inclination of electronic trailblazers will be to do the same thing: catalogue a series of pages into a contextual setting like an argument or a tour or a lesson.

Per the web 2.0 rules, it’s in beta. But this feels like a true beta not just a moniker add-on for trendiness. I am looking for:

  • java script, so you can find my latest or most popular trails on my blog
  • voting for trails
  • blaze caching
  • trail tagging or categorization of some kind
  • RSS feeds for my trails; they have RSS for the individual trails, but how often would I update those?
  • pre-made buttons or images for embedding with links and more importantly branding

In true beta, they are soliciting feedback on features from users. Not openly mind you, but via reply emails. I sent a note about the first and last items on my list and got a personal note back asking me to describe what I wanted. This post will be my reply, so let’s see how that goes–I think it will go well.

Here are my ideas:

Embed Script
I like the simple stuff. Just a list of the Top 5 Trails I created. With options on most recent, most popular, or by category so I can create trails to match my blog content. For the folks that like a bit more flare in their widgets I would think that something that rotates or scrolls or displays the screenshots of the blazes would be fun.

I hope I don’t have to elaborate that.

Blaze Caching
Basically a FURL like feature so that if your domain dries up my trail won’t.

I don’t much use categories, but I do like their more flexible cousin tagging. But it seems like its easy enough to have both. Searching the trails currently is a bit hit and miss without a better sense of where you might be headed.

RSS for Trails
You can get a feed for updates to an existing trail, but not as far as I can tell for a particular user’s list of trails. This seems like a great thing to have because if I find that someone has the same tastes as I do, I want to know what new trails they are blazing.

Good God don’t make me start having to do the branding. Get me a standard button I can throw into a post with a link the the apposite trail so that users can get used to seeing them. This is the most bang for the buck marketing-wise.

One A few I whipped up:

trailfire plain

My trails so far:

Update to my wish list
The ability for followers to comment on the original comments rather than on the page itself (if it even offers such).

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Why Backpack Continues to Rock

I shared several month’s ago that I had signed on to Backpack and was loving it.  I have since that time bought in at the first paid rung and been using it daily.  Today it got better.  Not because of anything 37 Signals did, but because of what they allow others to do.

I don’t do anything special with Backpack I suppose–there are others more creative and dedicated than I.  But today I got a little alert telling me about a programmer that has used the Backpack API to let  folks to send mp3’s of phone calls to their Backpack.


For many years I have been just calling my answering machine to leave messages for myself: "Don’t forget you want to tape Friends.",  "That song you heard just now is by Nora Jones.", or "Drink water before you go to bed so you’re not as hung over tomorrow.".

Now I can leave and save those on the Internet instead.  And I can listen to them where ever and when ever I need–maybe not the drunk one.

Anyhow, my thanks to celltell for such a great mash-up.

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Backpack: Get Organized and Collaborate

Paid to Post

What I love about blogging is that I get to do something I enjoy and make a little money while writing. Pay Per Post ( is a service that makes it easy to do both.

I first read about Pay Per Post at Miss Snark.  Looks she heard about it from an article in Business Week.  Don’t you love how good news travels these days?

I know some people find making money in the blogosphere crass, but I I think they miss the simplicity connecting people that want to sell stuff with people that like the stuff they sell.  Pay Per Post doesn’t miss that simplicity at all, in fact, they seem to be capitalizing on it.  I signed up in a few moments–all I needed was a mature blog and a PayPal account.  The list of opportunities allows me to promote the things I am interested in and skip over the ones I am not.

I don’t need to turn this site into a store either–they don’t even want me to do that.  No blinking ads crammed into the sidebar that every savvy reader ignores and no RSS aggregator picks up anyway.

Should be fun.  Heck, I already IMed the link to a couple friends with blogs.

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Flogging Molly

I have been wanting to say something nice about these guys since I listened to the "Drunken Lullabies" album after I got it from my brother-in-law back at Christmas time.  But I am not much of a reviewer–I can’t really pull off anything more sophisticated than, "I like these guys.  You should buy the album too."

Maybe that’s the best review one can give.

But I think that a review is supposed to include a bit about the why of it all.  Let’s start with this gloriously badly spelled IM conversation:

Douglas (9:38 AM) – "we find ourselves in the same old mess: singing drunken lullabies"
Jim (9:39 AM) – don’t know that one
Douglas (9:39 AM) – guess what country the band that sings sthat line is from?
Jim (9:39 AM) – Zimbabwe
Douglas (9:39 AM) – dumb ass
Douglas (9:39 AM) – you didnt even try
Jim (9:39 AM)
Douglas (9:39 AM) – though excellent effort pulling a hard spell country righ out of your ass
Jim (9:40 AM)

Douglas (9:40 AM) – Ireland
Jim (9:40 AM) – ah, of course!
Douglas (9:40 AM) – "Floggy Molly"
Douglas (9:40 AM) – sory
Douglas (9:40 AM) – FLogging Molly
Douglas (9:40 AM) – from their "Drunken Lullabies" album
Douglas (9:41 AM) – its kinda folksy irish speed metal
Douglas (9:41 AM) – though I am more of a country music guy
Douglas (9:41 AM) – so I may have made up that genre
Jim (9:41 AM) – oh, sort of Irish Rovers meet U2?
Douglas (9:42 AM) – sure
Douglas (9:42 AM) – but super accenty
Douglas (9:43 AM) – "wipe the golden tear from your mother dear, and raise what’s left of the flag for me"
Douglas (9:44 AM) – sorta poetic, patriotic, and angry
Douglas (9:44 AM) – a good dance beat
Jim (9:44 AM) – ahhh, ok. like Cranberries in that sense
Douglas (9:44 AM) – um
Douglas (9:44 AM) – sure
Jim (9:44 AM) – sorta poetic, patriotic, and angry
Douglas (9:44 AM) – I am unfamiliar with the Cranberries
Douglas (9:44 AM) – dont forget how sheltered I am
Jim (9:45 AM) – oh they’re not realy making noise any more, but they had a few hits in the grunge age
Douglas (9:46 AM) – I have heard of them
Douglas (9:46 AM) – though I would have said they were Canadian
Jim (9:46 AM) – nah, Irish

I don’t know jack about the other groups Jim mentioned, I was just going along–well I do know jack about U2, but who doesn’t?

Why: fast paced, easy to understand the words despite the heavier than normal in music accent, makes me feel like if I weren’t of Austrian heritage I could have been from Ireland, so far after a ridiculous amount of repeat listening I haven’t found it getting stale.

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Post From Writely

This is a test post from Writely, an online word processor and blog posting tool.  Currently the software is in ‘pre-beta’–is that gamma or alpha?

It allows for collaborative and near real time co-editing of a file.