I joined Delicious (formerly styled del.icio.us) yesterday. For those of you living under a rock for the past decade, Delicious is the original social bookmarking web service.
As a web geek, I run many browsers at once. A typical setup for me would be:
- Firefox, under my development profile (which I have captured in
Automator and imaginatively named
FF dev). Three to four windows open to various parts of the site I’m currently working on.
- Firefox, under my personal profile (captured in Automator). A dizzying set of windows and tabs open to reference material.
- Firefox, under my Facebook profile (yup, you guessed it). I have a major FB project going at present and check in regularly. On the other hand I value my concentration, so I have it sandboxed.
- Chrome, because Google docs and especially Google spreadsheets work best with chrome.
- Safari, because the Safari Bookshelf seems happiest with Safari.
Bookmarks local to a single browser simply don’t meet my needs.
I have hundreds of bookmarks, the vast majority of which link to a selected entry page for an information-rich web resource. Choosing a single slot in a rigid hierarchy for each bookmark is frustrating and counter-productive. With in-browser bookmarks, I frequently find it easier to search for the resource with a few strategic terms than to recall in which of several related categories I put a particular resource.
Delicious pioneered using those terms (called tags) as the organizing principle for a set of bookmarks. Entering any of a bookmark’s tags will bring up that entry, along with any other resources on which I have used the same tag. Tags not only eliminate the frustration during bookmarking and ease retrieval, they facilitate discovering new relations in the bookmarked materials.
While many browsers now support tagged bookmarks, that support is limited to storing tags, leaving their use in retrieval to extensions. Furthermore, tags really benefit from social support: a starter set of suggested tags can make all the difference between creating a rich set of personalized tags and not using the feature at all.
sync, sank, sunk
I’ve explored alternatives to in-browser bookmarks before. Several years ago I researched the bookmark syncing services and even tried Xmarks for a brief time. Xmarks syncing had a very noticeable impact on my mac, however, so I dropped it. I will say that I was not a particularly good fit for the syncing approach to bookmarks as I am generally conservative when it comes to resources and syncing seems like overkill to me.
social, yes, promiscuous, no
I have liked the idea of a social bookmarking site from the beginning. Having said that, I do not necessarily want all my bookmarks to be public. Two situations in which I would use private bookmarks that immediately come to mind are sites I have not yet visited in any depth but plan to explore later and sites that serve as examples of what not to do.
Keeping two entirely separate sets of bookmarks: a public set in a social bookmarking service and a private set of in-browser bookmarks will inevitably reduce the richness of both sets, not to mention increase my workload.
Enter Octopress. I have just moved my blog to Octopress (for some value of moved; I still need to process the posts on my old blog but decided not to let that delay launching the new one). One of Octopress’s default properties is that it integrates your Delicious feed. How cool is that? Time to go revisit Delicious.
I explored Delicious shortly after it came out and again several years later and decided not to use it. Both times the determining factor was interaction design: the drag on my workflow was such that I was confident it would get in the way of my productivity.
This time, however, I was pleasantly surprised. While it is early days as of yet, I’m already integrating the beta bookmarklet into my workflow. The interface is nice and clean, although even the ‘compact’ version takes up a huge amount of space. But that’s what user styles are for…
I decided not to upload my bookmarks from my various browswers, but rather to enter them as I came to them: I was due to sort through the things anyway.
Thanks, Octopress. Not only do I have a blogging platform on which I can actually write again, but it looks like I may have an answer to my perennial bookmark problem!