Some time ago the fantasy cartographer Ben Milton posted the following idea on his Facebook wall:
You know what I want? A simple service where all you do is post a list of links that you’ve been reading recently. No pictures, videos, games or clutter, just lists of links. Follow the right people, and you’d get really interesting, eclectic, high-quality reading material on a regular basis. I guess I kind of use Facebook for this purpose already, but something dedicated to this would be really nice.
The reaction to the idea was immediately enthusiastic. And philosophy blogger and amateur computer program writer Socraticum put together the new social medium Marrow, now in beta. I immediately joined (I immediately joined: here is my list). RSS readers are wonderful for following consistently good sites (I have been using Digg Reader since the much lamented demise of Google Reader), but RSS is not very good for getting the best material (the “marrow”) from high-volume sites. This is one of the things that social media such as Facebook and Twitter do much better. As Alan Jacobs once wrote of Twitter:
I like Twitter for several reasons. I primarily use it from day to day as a guide to what’s worth reading on the internet: it has largely come to be a more personal supplement to (increasingly a replacement for) my RSS feeds, with articles and posts and books not “fed” to me automatically but recommended by people I already know to be thoughtful and interesting.
But of course Twitter and Facebook are not dedicated to the function of “guide to what’s worth reading on the internet”— they have all sorts of other functions that interfere with that function. Hence the need for Marrow. Marrow is still very much in its infancy, and will doubtless improve as it increases the number of users, but it’s already a helpful site.
Recently Socraticum has also started an offshoot of Marrow with a different function: planet.joinmarrow.com is a collection of RSS feeds of Catholic blogs— a Catholic Aggregator Site, as Elliot Milco puts it. In a way the Marrow aggregator takes the opposite approach of the Marrow platform: a high volume, automatic stream. It can be viewed as Headlines, or as a kind of endless group blog. I doubt I will use it much, as I already use Digg Reader for that purpose, but it is interesting to glance at now and again.