Are.na is an open space where people can organize their thoughts and documents to collaborate, research, and learn together. I love their cooperative orientation to collecting knowledge and the “slow” approach to socializing online.
Are.na has been described as “social media for people who dislike social media”, “social media that doesn’t damage your brain,” and also “Pinterest for nerds.” I think all those descriptions are highly accurate.
Users connect their Kindle devices with their computers, pick a file called My Clippings.txt, and then drop it into the website. A server running Node.js parses the file, extracts the clippings, and displays the information. From there users can select their highlights and notes, and send them to their Are.na channels.
Like with my enFont Terrible project, I took a respectful approach to privacy: which means that I never store user data on my server. But to avoid having to upload the clippings file every time the user wants to interact with the site, he information is stored locally in the Local Storage of their browsers. This way, if they reload the page or close the browser, they won’t have to re-upload the file again.
The user can modify the highlights and notes before sending the data to Are.na, and since Are.na uses Markdown in the description of the content, users can apply their own formatting.
Future updates include adding a mechanism to create simple templates so users can customize the way they publish the highlights, and an option to share the clippings into a common Are.na channel.
The code of this project is public and available in this GitHub repo.