A Better Personal Microblogging Platform

I have always wanted a place to collect things, whether they were random thoughts that popped into my head, or interesting websites and articles that I found online. I’ve also wanted a place to post things publicly, that didn’t quite fit with my blog — maybe they were just little incomplete thoughts, or outside one of the topic areas that I choose to focus on in my blog.

For a while, I thought existing tools out there would work for my needs. I was quite intrigued by Tumblr early on, and used it fairly extensively, but it didn’t quite have everything that I was looking for. Of course I use Twitter and Facebook — the ease at which I can drop a thought is great, but retrieving those thoughts is more problematic. Obviously there isn’t a way to easily sort and organize my posts, and things seem to get lost in the clutter of these platforms.

I was also looking for a tool that wasn’t so outwardly focused. All of those existing sites are designed to put everything I post out there. They all scream “Hey, look at me!”. Perhaps it’s just because I’m an introvert by nature, but I’m not like that in real life. I’d hazard a guess that none of us are. The tools I was trying to use just weren’t built to be tools for our own betterment; they were built only to put ourselves out in front of other people. I was looking for a place to post things mainly for myself, but something that would potentially also allow me to make some things viewable to others if I so desired.

The Personal Microblogging Idea

The idea for ZinDrop, my microblogging platform, was to build what I haven’t yet found. A tool where I could drop thoughts and website articles (and now photos as well), organize them based on tags, and be able to browse my own collections of things in a fairly minimal, clutter-free fashion. I also wanted to have some of those collections viewable to others if I so desired. To sum it all up, I was mainly looking for the following:

  • A place to quickly add a note or thought
  • A place to save an interesting website or article
  • A way to organize everything based on tags
  • The ability to share only what I wanted, but keep the focus on this being a tool for myself

The Origins

I’ve actually been working on ZinDrop for a couple of years, but since I was only really looking to create something to hold my own content, I wasn’t in too much of a hurry to make it available to others, although I knew at some point I would want to.

I mostly focused on a few areas, including the ability to organize everything by tag, and initially it was mainly just a note-taking application. Bookmarking websites and articles came a bit later, in part because it’s a little more challenging to do from a technical standpoint — Zindrop attempts to collect the a photo and pertinant information about the article, which presents some difficulty.

The basics of ZinDrop have been in place for quite some time now, which has allowed me quite a bit of time to work on bugs and streamline some functionality, and perhaps it makes sense to see if others can find some value in it. I would love to add more functionality and make some enhancements, but it’s only justifiable at this point if there are others using it.

The Next Steps: Photos

It didn’t take me too long to see this tool as a bit of a journalling tool. I go on lots of small adventures and take lots of photos. Quite often I post these little trips on my blog, but not every trip is worthy in my eyes of warranting a post, and sometimes I just want to post some photos of everyday life. I honestly just kind of love documenting my life, even the mildy mundane — these would probably be boring to most people, but I love to see a timeline of my own photos, trips, and happenings. ZinDrop could be a perfect tool for this, so recently I started to add this ability in as well.

A Twitter or Facebook Alternative?

Because I can post all of the same types of data that I can on Twitter or Facebook, it’s natural to assume that zindrop could branch into social media at some point down the road. I honestly have mixed feelings on this. I’m always interested in new ways to connect with others that share my interests, and also with discovering new, quality content that other people are creating, and I think zindrop could be an interesting platform for this. It however is a pretty large concept, and I would definitely want to do it better than the two large social networks are doing it, where it seems like most people are just pushing low quality posts to drive traffic to their whatever.

It’s honestly something I would love to explore, but I really don’t want to ruin the experience by trying to play the social media game. I could however see a sister website that plays more of a social media role. Something that could tie together whatever content users mark as being public into threads based on topic that could be followed. Either way, I think it’s a project for later.

What’s Next

The basics are in place, but there is still plenty to do. Improved image and gallery functions are a high priority, and I would love to get a web clipper in place, so I can add screenshots from websites. A lot of future development will likely come as a result of user input. I want to create a platform that works well for the people who use it, so gathering feedback will be an ongoing emphasis.