Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Quality Ingredients Make Bookmarks

It has been one year today since I started using Despite extolling its virtues ever since to everyone I know, I've stirred up little interest (foolish mortals not grasping the potential of social bookmarking & folksonomies!).

Until, coincidentally, yesterday when a friend, Glenna, (even the name is a coincidence) asked me about (little did she know what she was begetting). is my favourite web application and I keep finding more reasons to love it - and you will too if you read on and sample it. is a free web-based bookmarking service founded by Joshua Schachter in 2003, but was bought out by Yahoo.

Rotten old style bookmarks
While I have always loved bookmarking, it has a lot of limitations when done via one’s browser. I use the web a lot at home and at work and there was no practical way to share bookmarks, nor access them on the road. Another problem is that avid surfers and information hoarders, such as myself, quickly outgrew efforts at even the best attempts at classifications schemes via folders, subfolders and subsubfolders. Also, bookmarks could only appear in one folder (unless you bookmarked the same page twice) so you had to remember your filing convention.

The main difference with is that you tag a webpage with terms that you specify. Tags are keywords related to the webpage. Getting used to tags is not hard. You only need one tag per bookmark but can have as many as you want. Not sure how to tag a page - gives you suggestions on what others have tagged it. That's all you need to do.

Top things you can do with

Cool stuff for the bookmarker
1. Import your existing browser bookmarks
2. Buttons can be added to your browser, so it's quick to use
3. Add comments or summaries to each bookmark
4. View bookmarks in your browser via downloadable toolbar
5. Back-up or export your bookmarks
6. Bundle tags to organize bookmarks into meaningful groups
7. Hide your dirty little secrets via “do not share” option
8. Search your and/or others' bookmarks
9. Create separate accounts for different things (eg. work vs personal)
10. Share an account with your work team or association for easy info sharing
11. Each tag you use has a unique url, so you can link directly to it (say I want to share my findings about Internet culture, here's the link)

Cool stuff for the social networker
12. Share directly with friends using via one click
13. Build a network of friends and bookmarkers you admire and monitor what they're up to
14. See who else bookmarked the same obscure site, look them up, and bond
15. Add' Facebook application to share with your Facebook friends

Cool stuff for the website manager
16. Add a button or link to your page/blog to encourage people to bookmark you
17. Learn who’s bookmarking your site and what pages specifically – also see the tags your users find applicable to you, which can be a real eye opener

Cools stuff for the Internet publisher or blogger
18. Syndicate your bookmarks - your bookmarks & your tags have individual feeds built in (using RSS) so people can subscribe to the feed in their readers
19. Automate the publishing of your tag(s) using the feeds (as I'm doing with the Net News on the right)
20. Publish your work account's bookmarks on your intranet
21. Copyright your bookmarks (you own them, not Yahoo) using Creative Commons

Cool stuff for searchers & researchers
22. Find people interested in the same topic as you and check out their bookmarks
23. Add value to the web, as tags help indicate what a webpage is really about, eventually technologies will be able to use these tags to help improve search engines (ie. semantic web)
24. Create custom tags to help research and micro-organizing (in gearing up for my graduate research, I started tags for Internet_theory, Internet_history, Internet_politics, Internet_journalism, etc.)
25. Subscribe to tags of your choosing and see updates in one spot
26. Check out the homepage for what's hot and recent in the community

Other cool stuff
27. Create a tag for yourself and keep track of all the online stuff related to you (or me)
28. Get gifts you want by bookmarking your favourite stuff with the tag “wishlist” and when someone wants to know what to get you send them this link (this was' own tip, but its the best!)

Not so tasty
One of the biggest problems with is that tags have to be one word. A further limitation is that all spelling variations of the tag are counted as unique tags (so you’ll see social_bookmarking, socialbookmarking, social_bookmarks and they are all treated as separate). While it’s great to be able to use the same tags as the larger community, your tags need to be readable to you, so find a convention you find useful and stick to it (for instance, I like to capitalize proper nouns and I like multiple words separated with underscores rather than compounded). It also doesn’t handle synonyms well (eg. I want to bookmark sites to order cookies to eat and sites discussing website cookies).

There are also a lot of competitors, but none as popular. I've tried StumbleUpon but haven't got into it. Yahoo MyWeb (why they launched a competitor to their own company is beyond me) has a cool feature that let’s you store a copy of the webpage despite what seems like copyright violation.

Here’s a helpful page to begin:

Once you're on, be sure to add me to your network.

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