In an online world filled with likes & retweets the lowly bookmark is in a state of severe neglect. The social world is developing a myriad of ways to share content and judge what’s popular while disregarding the value in organizing & discovering useful content.
To illustrate my point: You know that really cool how-to article you tweeted 3 weeks ago? Can you find it again?
There is a good chance that the answer is no. What we we have gained in real-time information we have lost in short term memory.
Bookmarking is still the only way to create a reference library of online content. The web browser bookmark (or favorite) was introduced in the early 90s in the Mosaic browser and this decade we saw the bookmark transformed with social bookmarking.
Social bookmarking holds plenty of potential that is largely ignored.
A none too Delicious rant
Delicious was the forerunner of this social bookmarking remains the most popular service. Unfortunately, it’s awful.
The site was founded in 2003 and then purchased by Yahoo! in 2005. At the time I thought this would be a boom to social bookmarking with Yahoo’s money and eyeballs. (This was the before we knew that Yahoo was the place startups go to die.) Instead Delicious entered a cryogenic state that would make Ted Williams jealous.
Even if we ignore that the website looks like it was designed by Craigslist and it is about as user friendly as a porcupine you can’t deny that it hasn’t offered a single innovation in 5 years. The feature list remains the same; Save, tag, search. That’s it.
- highlighting of text and images
- add sticky notes to a page
- screen captures of the site
- share annotated pages
- create lists, and even create user groups around a subject.
Diigo’s toolset allows me to create an amazing digital memory but can social bookmarking do more?
Discovering the Useful Web
Which action constitutes a stronger level of interest? A share or a save?
I think the case can be made bookmarking a site indicates it has greater value than if I simply tweet or like a page.
What it these worlds finally collided? What if both my bookmarks and my shared sites contributed to a profile of what I find interesting. This is the untapped gold mine in social bookmarking.
Content discovery is the next big phase of the social web because we need systems that highlight the most interesting content out of the deluge of streaming information.
Look at the tools racing in this direction.
- Google Reader Shared Items – This is probably the most powerful feature of G.R. I can see what my friends found interesting and it creates a shorthand best of the web reading list.
- Topsy/Bit.ly/Tweetmeme – All services focused on tracking what is shared so they can provide data on what is popular.
- Digg – A “social news” site that relies on other diggs to help find what is popular
- My6sense – An amazing iPhone app that learns what I like and uses my social streams to deliver me the most interesting content.
As we begin to use content discovery tools to gauge the value of content I want to see the number of shares but also the number of bookmarks. Analyzing the number of bookmarks opens a whole new realm of possibilities. It can move the social web beyond “what is popular” to “what is useful”.
For example, take your standard Mashable news blurb, it has 600 retweets but it might not be that useful. If my recommendation system could also see that it’s only been bookmarked 20 times then it could better judge if I will actually find it useful.
To be fair Delicious does have a popular links section but does this look useful to you?
Honestly, I could care less what is poplar. Heck @LadyGaga is the most popular Twitter female on the planet but I’m not interested. Give me useful any day.
Bookmarks are touchstones. They are something we want to remember. The very action means they are useful and its time Social Bookmarking realized they are the missing link in this change.
The challenge -
- We need more people using social bookmarking.
- We need social bookmarking services to evolve into recommendation/discovery systems.
Are you using Delicious or Diigo? If not I’d love to know why. What roadblocks keep you from organizing your links?
Are you looking for a more useful web?