I love using tools a lot on the internet. I enjoy writing my own and finding alternatives to bulky ones. I love minimalist tooling that serves a purpose well — a little bit like the Unix philosophy, a tool that does one thing well. I’d rather find an Opinel than a Swiss knife.
For the last year or so, I have been using Are.na, a tool you could compare to Pinterest if you are not really familiar with Are.na, but it is much more than a pin board for me.
Are.na has two significant concepts: “blocks” and “channels.” You add blocks to channels, and you create channels as a collection of blocks. The twist: You can have channels from other people pinned in your channels, a meta level.
I use it a lot to pin stuff from my browsing on the internet— a lot of pictures, links, and videos are there. But the nice part is that you can also have open collections where folks can come and add stuff that matches the channel. They can connect the blocks you created to their channels, and this is where the serendipitous discovery begins. You can go from channel to channel and connect with people’s blocks and reintegrate them into yours.
This is one of the most charming parts of the social networks I have been on recently. It doesn’t feel like the website is there to steal your attention or your money. I am here, just like on Wikipedia, browsing, clicking, and walking across this part of the Internets. And, this feels safe.
The cherry on the cake is that it is a fully open world. You have full access over an API to add/remove/modify stuff. I extract a lot from there to some secret inspirational pages I am creating, and it feels good using the right tool to gather the information first. I also have other tools synced to Are.na where it acts as a public gathering for some information I am keeping in other private tools.
I just love it!
💌 You can find my part of Are.na here.