Machete: a tool to organise my bookmarks

Sep 14, 2023 • Yousef Amar • 2 min read • Parent project

I've had a problem for a while around organising articles and bookmarks that I collect. I try not to bookmark things arbitrarily, and instead be mindful of the purpose of doing so, but I still have thousands of bookmarks, and they grow faster than I can process them.

I've tried automated approaches (for example summarising the text of these webpages and clustering vector embeddings of these) with limited success so far. I realised that maybe I should simply eat the frog and work my way through these, then develop a system for automatically categorising any new/inbound bookmark on the spot so they stay organised in the future.

A new problem was born: how can I efficiently manually organise my bookmarks? The hardest step in my opinion is having a good enough overview of the kinds of things I bookmark such that I can holistically create a hierarchy of categories, rather than the greedy approach where I tag things on the fly.

I decided to first focus on bookmarks that I would categorise as "tools", which are products or services that I currently use, may use in the future, want to look at to see if they're worth using, or may want to recommend to others in the future if they express a particular need. These are a bit more manageable as they're a small subset; the bigger part of my bookmarks are general knowledge resources (articles etc).

At the moment, I rely on my memory for the above use cases. Often I don't remember the name of a tool, but I can usually find it with a substring search of the summaries. Often I don't remember tools in the first place, and am surprised to find that I bookmarked something that I wish I would have remembered existed.

Eventually, I landed on a small script to convert all my notes into files, and then using different file browsers to drag and drop files into the right place. This was still very cumbersome.

On the front page of my public notes I have two different visualisations for browsing these notes. I find them quite useful for getting an overview. I thought it might be quite useful to use the circles view for organisation too. So I thought I should make a minimal file browser that displays files in this way, for easy organisation.

Originally, I took this as an excuse to try Tauri (a lighter Electron equivalent built on Rust that uses native WebViews instead of bundled Chromium), and last month I did get an MVP working, but then I realised that I'm making things hard on myself, especially since the development workflow for Tauri apps wasn't very smooth with my setup.

So instead, I decided to write this as an Obsidian plugin, since Obsidian is my main PKM tool. Below is a video demo of how far I got.

You can:

Unlike the visualisation on my front page, which uses word count for node size, this version uses file size. So far, it helps with organisation, although I would like to work on a few quality-of-life things to make this properly useful.