Why I (now) like social bookmarking (more)

I posted. You commented. Your comments made me reconsider.

What troubled me most about social bookmarking is that almost everyone else finds it useful. When a bunch of people whose opinions you respect tell you that something is good, it suggests that you’re missing something and need to think again. So first, thanks to my commenters. Deepak – you’re right, del.icio.us makes far more sense when used through a Firefox extension. Bill – I did trial Simpy and it’s pretty impressive, especially for one guy’s side project. I’d certainly recommend it as an option. Euan – thanks for pointing out the del.icio.us network feature. Pierre – you reminded me to write a post titled “why I hate connotea and citeulike” :) Matthias – unalog does have a great, clean look, but perhaps it’s better to stay with the bigger players for now. Finally onlycrook – your comment was a great practical usage example that made me think.

To anyone else considering online bookmarking, here are my thoughts.

  • If you just want your bookmarks online, available in Firefox and don’t care about the social aspect, go with Google Bookmarks and the Gmarks addon.
  • If you want something similar with the option of social bookmarking, try Simpy and the Smarky addon. Smarky and Gmarks are developed by the same guy and work in a very similar way.
  • I’d like to recommend ma.gnolia on the basis of their website design and features. Unfortunately they lose points for Firefox integration. Currently there is one addon – a simple button for adding a bookmark, with no option to view/search bookmarks in the browser. I expect that will change.
  • If you want to join the majority of the social bookmarking world, you’ll just have to go with del.icio.us.

I swore that I’d never return to del.icio.us until they included a “share all by default” option for importing bookmarks. Two hours later there I was, manually setting my imported links to shared. I’ll admit that it did force me to organise things, but I still think it’s a bloody stupid omission, given that all the other social sites have it. If I’d had any more than a few hundred bookmarks, I’d have thought twice.

A few more things to consider:

  • If you export Google or Simpy bookmarks using Gmarks or Smarky, some sites are not happy when importing the resulting bookmarks.html file. I fixed this by importing to Firefox and re-exporting first.
  • Any online activity involves cost-benefit analysis; what do you gain from the time that you invested? After three days of this I’m expecting some payback, I can tell you.
  • It’s important to choose one service and stick with it. The whole point of this is to save you time by putting your bookmarks in one place – you can’t afford to be leaping between sites or ending up with a bunch of slightly different bookmarks in different places.
  • It’s a fact that del.icio.us are the largest, oldest and most popular players in the game. What this means is that competitors will always include a “import from del.icio.us” option. In other words – even if you don’t think del.icio.us is that great, there’s no harm in being there for now as you’ll always be able to move if something better takes over.

I still don’t know if I agree that bookmarking is an inherently social activity. I enjoy discovering other people’s videos (YouTube), photos (Flickr), blogs (Technorati etc.), presentations (Slideshare) and music (Last.fm). Bookmarks? I’m just not sure. Time will tell.

So ends my foray into social bookmarking. You can now find me here. Thanks again for all the great comments.

2 thoughts on “Why I (now) like social bookmarking (more)

  1. I was inspired by my post on your blog to organize my own tags again. It’s better when you start bundling them (especially as you add more bookmarks). I didn’t bother with that until I saw that someone else had bundled tags (my motto: never read the manual or view the tutorials–fake it until you need something). Mine are at jude2004

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