The Internet can be more than just a resting place to publish your finished ideas - it can also be an incubator for ideas that aren't fully formed, a birthing center for developing work that you haven't started yet. (p. 82)
New flow these days:
only follow channels I want instant updates on
if I like a channel and want to refer back to it, I'll connect it to a related channel that I own
check explore when i want to kill time and connect stuff as i see it
I like the people and things on are.na a lot more than everywhere else, so I try to replace other services with are.na as a means of a) experimenting with the site, b) cutting out service clutter/overload, and c) consolidating all the things I need to a single place that I’m happy to pay for.
I use two ‘arenapaper’ channels to replace Instapaper. When I’ve read something from the ‘read’ channel, it goes to the ‘archive’ channel.
I use ‘scrobbler’ to replace the last.fm service, as well as any other ‘recent activity’ lists. This one is particularly useful because nowadays I listen to music on youtube, spotify, bandcamp, niconico, itunes, boomkat etc, and it’s very easy to just link to all of these in one place.
I have a bunch of channels that are essentially youtube music playlists, but without the functionality. Admittedly, these would probably be better as playlists on youtube, but I still prefer to keep them on are.na.
I have a portfolio channel that has a lot of my work from the last few years. It’s a surprisingly good experience, I think. Someone can just click through each image, and they’ve all got descriptions and info. I’ve added tags to each image (i.e publishing, branding, etc) so that you can use the basic channel filter as well.
I made a connection channel with screenshots from my feed + comments to simulate Are.na if connections could be connected to channels.
One of my beliefs is that Are.na has potential not just as a researching platform for other projects (blogging, presentation decks, web design, gallery exhibits) but as a publishing platform in its own right, where users are able to present ideas to an audience. One way to do this is to build sort of playlists for ideas, where by assembling text and media documents you're actually making a sort of argument, or presenting a sort of worldview. Another way is by using the container system as a format to stack and structure original fragments of ideas.
I'm tempted to use the word "postmodern" to describe this publishing platform, because there's a way in which things are deconstructed into blocks, but that's actually missing the fundamental mechanism of how Are.na works. What's actually happening is reconstruction, where a bunch of scattered blocks are built into a new structure all of their own.
One of the ways I'm trying to get "better" at using Are.na is being more conscientious about titling and/or adding descriptions to my blocks and channels. It's easy to not do this because I've become used to privileging speed over long-term use (i.e. it's easy to add things, but harder/more time-consuming to label them, particularly if it means having to actually research the content). Also, I might have a pretty good idea of where I've put everything, but no one else will. This, to me, is key to making Are.na a more communal project than an individualistic one. Labeling helps make what you've added more useful to others (and yourself in the long term!). By creating a culture around "tending to" / "taking care" of the things we add, Are.na becomes more useful for everyone, like a community garden :^). I should note that I would not want Are.na to go the direction of Pinterest where users are required to add titles/descriptions because forcing it down your throat doesn't actually engender care (this is a key distinction for me). I imagine it might be possible to encourage this behavior more through UI/UX, but I think the desire and behavior should ultimately come from the users themselves.