Maciej Ceglowski tells us that Pinboard turns seven today. I started using Pinboard on July 14, 2009, so I’ve been there since it was about a week old. (Didn’t realize that until just now.)
I think Pinboard is just the greatest thing, and I can’t even really explain why. I suppose because it primarily does one thing — enable you to bookmark things you read online — and does it with simple elegance. It’s the closest thing to an organizational system I have. Here’s my Pinboard page, or my Pinboard, as the kids say.
You can also sort of hack Pinboard to stretch its capabilities. I knew for some time that the notes you create in Pinboard used Markdown syntax before I realized that that meant you could embed images, as I’ve done here, or even videos. (These are loaded from the original URL, not stored by Pinboard, so it wouldn’t be a means of long-term preservation.)
I have used Pinboard to note blog-post ideas — and indeed one of the most densely-populated tags in my Pinboard is called bloggable — but I have often fantasized, as my friend Matt Thomas knows, about turning Pinboard into a blogging platform, and basically moving my whole online life there. The problem is that this runs counter to my oft-professed devotion to the Own Your Turf ideal. I suppose if I were truly devoted to that ideal I wouldn’t use Pinboard at all, but when a service performs its chosen task so well, and that task is so important for my work, I’m not inclined to sacrifice quality to principle. Not yet anyway. Anyhow, Pinboard makes it easy to download your whole archive, which I do from time to time by way of backup.
Two more notes, while we’re in a note-making mood:
Note the first: The true master of Pinboard is Roberto Greco, whom Robin Sloan has called the internet’s “idea sommelier.”
Note the second: In the birthday greeting that’s my first link above, Ceglowski makes a point of noting the outside funding he has received in creating and maintaining Pinboard: zero. Not a penny. He also provides the revenue Pinboard brings in, so that you can see something important: he makes a pretty good living. Almost as long as he’s been running Pinboard he’s been advocating for this way of doing things: instead of seeking venture capital in hopes of getting filthy rich, and therefore inevitably becoming a slave to your investors, why not choose to be a small business owner? Didn’t this used to be the American dream, or one of them, to be your own person, work for no one except yourself, determine your own hours, live your own life?
Ceglowski has not only advocated for this way of life in tweets and talks, he even created The Pinboard Co-Prosperity Cloud, a competition for young entrepreneurs the winner of which would get plenty of advice from him and $37. It’s hard to imagine a more countercultural figure in Silicon Valley, which I guess is why Ceglowski gets invited to give so many talks. For the money-obsessed tech-startup world, it’s like having one of the zoo animals come to you.