Will del.icio.us be Delicious in the years of maturity?

I’ve talked about why it pays staff who move around a lot to make as much content as possible available online. I’ve recommended shifting frequently-used documents to email, or a staff wiki or intranet. But what about all those wonderful webpages we bookmark each day and squirrel away in our browsers’ bookmarks folder? How can we access these from elsewhere?

The long and short of it is that we can’t. But we can submit them to an online service accessible with an internet connection from anywhere in the world.

There are several web-based bookmarking services (also known as ‘social bookmarking‘ sites) that allow me to upload my favourite pages to a website for my own use or to share with others. The beauty of this is that I can then take my bookmarks with me wherever I go — home, work or anywhere else with an internet connection — the perfect solution to the problem of finding a great site for research and being in the wrong place to bookmark it at the time.

I’ve never really gelled with del.icio.us, the most popular of these services. I’m not sure why; the concept itself is brilliant. I think maybe it’s something to do with never remembering where to put those confusing dots. Thankfully they’ll be removed in version 2.0.

(‘Coffee cream bunny rabbit bookmark’, from Amigurumi’s Flickr photos and reproduced under a Creative Commons Licence)

I joined del.icio.us when I first started at Swinburne. Back in those days I was using Internet Explorer, and I found the process of adding tags pretty convoluted. Like most users, I am only going to use new software if it doesn’t make my existing workflows more complicated. So not surprisingly, I quickly gave up on del.icio.us.

I also tried Jumptags, one of its newer rivals (not owned by Yahoo). While it looked pretty, I was frustrated that it logged me out of the service every time I left the site (even if I visited the site more than once during a single browser session). I was also concerned about test sites I wanted to bookmark for easy access but not share publicly; I wasn’t sure how Jumptags would manage these. Finally, like del.icio.us for Internet Explorer, as there was no easy way to add a page to Jumptags without having to stop work and open a new browser tab, I continued to use Ctrl + D to save a link, then export it to Jumptags later. While synchronising my browser-based bookmarks and my Jumptags bookmarks was a relatively easy process, I needed to remember to synchronise every afternoon. Not much chance of that. Again, I gave up.

What about other services? CiteULike and Connotea are popular among researchers, but as they’re designed primarily to help academics share scholarly works, images and other resources with their colleagues for export to bibliographic software, they have a completely different agenda and target audience from del.icio.us. Others like Faves, Reddit, StumbleUpon, and the truly awful Digg, return to the idea of a ‘social’ service by allowing users to ‘rate’ the bookmarks added by other users. None of them appears to completely satisfy my needs.

I acknowledge that my current system isn’t working. Even with my bookmarks neatly filed in folders, it’s hard to find anything and even harder to deduplicate. So now that I’m a Firefox devotee (and running out of time for the 23 Things program), I thought I’d give del.icio.us another shot. There’s only one hitch; I’m using Firefox 3 Beta 3 at the moment, and the del.icio.us toolbar isn’t compatible with this version yet. Damn.

I think you can probably learn a lot about me from my bookmarks. Feel free to let me know what conclusions you draw in the comments!

More links:

Blogger’s note: Amazingly, the title of this blog post relates to physics:
‘I live in that solitude which is painful in youth, but delicious in the years of maturity.’ – Albert Einstein

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