Herding the article cats – a five minute work flow

A bit of pre-amble. My simple, but surely not exclusive, even if slightly narcissistic need was for a place where people could come to read all my different articles, from different sources in one place. Given the less narcissistic option of having the ability to present multiple articles from different authors, surely I wasn’t alone in thinking of this?

The secondary criteria were ease of use – in terms of getting from new-article-on-web to new-article-in-index – the ability to broadcast from a single place about existence of said, and finally, a wouldn’t-it-be-nice-if I could measure who was reading what? Oh, and finally, zero cost other than my time, and no geekery beyond clicking buttons.

I started thinking about some kind of online index – there must be hundreds of articles out there, so an archiving tool which could then link out to the original sources? Great theory – but outside library management software (maybe a bit OTT) no dice.

After a long trawl around content curation, collation and presentation, a diversion into link sharing (Digg, StumbleUpon etc) and a quick trip through newsreaders and RSS managers, I finally settled on bookmarks and tags. Simply put, Delicious to bookmark articles and tag them appropriately – with “interorbis” say. I could then access the complete list whenever I wanted.

That solved building a list and ease of use, but it wasn’t so hot on presentation. Undeterred, I thought about a different route – to hand-craft a thumbnail of each article and host it on my own blog. Trouble is, WordPress isn’t really cut out for few-frills blogging, and the off-the-shelf display themes weren’t ideal.

I went back to the link sharing route. Remembering one option was to set up a separate Twitter account and use it to pump out articles (rejected for display reasons), my travels took me to two services that bridge the gap between microblogging and full-fat blogging, namely Tumblr and Posterous.

Posterous initially looked like the preferred option – better sharing capability – but I settled for Tumblr because of the more established database of themes available. It is, apparently, possible to use a Tumblr theme in Posterous, but that was getting all too complicated.

In my travels I also stubbed my toe on Ping.fm, a hub for collating and broadcasting messages to social networks. Add that to Bit.ly for link shortening and (more importantly in this instance) click-through measurement and I had all the tools I need.

So, I now have a solution. Create blogs and articles wherever they need to be; then, at the same time they are published, copy a short section and use it with Tumblr’s share-link capability. Pipe the link through bit.ly first, to get that sharing measurement goodness, and then broadcast the final article via Ping.fm to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

End to end, the whole thing takes less than 5 minutes. Not perfect as it still requires some manual intervention, but not completely wrong either. And I’ve got a few of my photos in as well 🙂

Herding the article cats – a five minute work flow

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