I feel like I’m behind the times here, but tonight I looked at what del.icio.us is for the first time. del.icio.us is a site that promotes the concept of having “social bookmarks”. You sign up for an account, and add a couple of bookmarks to your browser. When you want to bookmark a page for easily retrieval later, you hit the del.icio.us bookmark for “post to del.icio.us”. This brings up a page with the url and title of the page you were on already filled out, and you can add a description and tags for the page, then you hit submit. The page and its info is then added to your personal collection of bookmarks in your del.icio.us account. Basically, the idea is that instead of storing bookmarks on your computer in your browser’s settings, you store your bookmarks on the del.icio.us website. Organization is handled by tags; one word descriptions that let you form categories for your bookmarks, and each bookmark can occupy more than one category or “tag”. Anyone who has used Flickr or Picasa will understand this concept instantly. I like this idea for my personal use because I am constantly using two computers every day, my Windows desktop and my Powerbook. I have played with some Firefox extensions that will sync bookmarks between two computers, but I really prefer to use Safari on my Powerbook. del.icio.us promises to provide me with a great solution, as I can have one bookmark to my del.icio.us account page on each machine, and have identical bookmarks accessible from either machine. Even though this doesn’t seem to be an aim of del.icio.us, it certainly fills the need.
So that’s the individual side of things. Now for the social aspect of things… When you add a bookmark, with it’s description and tags, to your own personal database, it also gets shared with anyone else using del.icio.us. When you look at your bookmarks you can see exactly how many other people have the same webpage saved. Clicking on this number shows a list of these people, and all of the descriptions and tags they’ve attributed to the page. You can also search through the entire del.icio.us database using tags or a word search. When your search results come back you not only get personalized commends on the pages that result, but you can also see how popular they are. This particular blog is currently saved by two people (myself and mesh) while Flickr is saved by over 1,400 people. It’s (painfully) obvious which site is more popular. I see this as an excellent tool for finding new websites that may pertain to your current interest.
The only thing I’m unclear on at this point is whether there is a way to keep your personal bookmarks from being viewable by everyone. I imagine making private bookmarks would really work against the whole concept of “social bookmarks”, and if you really don’t want someone to see what you look at everyday, you’d be better off saving the bookmark to your software instead of the server.