PowerPage Weekend Edition: Be del.icio.us!

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Date: Saturday, September 3rd, 2005, 13:37
Category: How-To

One of most difficult things to manage on any workstation are browser bookmarks. We collect and squirrel away tidbits of useful things for rainy days only to never find them again in spite of the fancy bookmark management options we have available!
But what if you could leverage the browsing of thousands of others and share these categorizations and valuable pointers to useful data with a nice easy-to-use and simply wonderful online application designed just for that purpose?
You can!


One of most difficult things to manage on any workstation are browser bookmarks. We collect and squirrel away tidbits of useful things for rainy days only to never find them again in spite of the fancy bookmark management options we have available!
When it comes right down to it, synchronizing bookmarks across multiple workstations isn’t enough to really bring some order to the bookmark disarray many suffer from. You can try to put things in folders and try to prune and preen, but what else can you do?
Be del.icio.us! del.icio.us is one of the first “social bookmarking” tools – if not the first – on the Web today. What I mean by social bookmarks is just that: things you find interesting are bookmarked on del.icio.us and appended to various special categories called “tags”.
Now these tags are user applied, so you could apply multiple tags to an item that mean something to you, and perhaps others as well. This means that if you bookmark an article from PowerPage on del.icio.us, you may use the tags “mac powerbook apple mobile” or whatever else it involved (“ipod photo video backpack”).
Since things are tagged into virtual “categories”, when you go to your homepage (see mine for an example – http://del.icio.us/emory/) on del.icio.us you’ll see the last items you have saved for yourself, who else bookmarked items with you, and a list of your tags off to the side.
You can group your tags in a variety of ways to give you several different views into your categorization of the web. You can browse them at your leisure or search your bookmarks too.
But that isn’t even remotely the coolest thing about del.icio.us.
Suppose you want to know what is going on in the world of PowerBooks according to users of del.icio.us?
You merely go to a URL you craft as you go; such as:

http://del.icio.us/tag/powerbook

This returns all pages tagged PowerBook by users everywhere. But wait, there’s more!

http://del.icio.us/tag/powerbook+sleeve

This will return things that are tagged PowerBook AND sleeve. I’ve always used a WaterField Designs slip case for my PowerBooks, but why not see what the competition looks like these days?
Several matches come up. And what no search on Google can give me is this: human beings finding out if its any good or not and also finding it interesting enough to save. This may not always work out in your favor, sure, but using del.icio.us is often like having a valet service much of the time. Also, every time you add something to del.icio.us, it doesn’t only help you, but also helps others as well.
You can subscribe to arbitrary RSS feeds of results of searches, or even make use of an “inbox” on del.icio.us that will dump things from tags you like to use (mac infosec email gtd home) from other people or only show YOUR bookmarks that match tags (http://del.icio.us/username/mac+music).
That last one comes in handy because of the use of the “for:” tag. If you want to just bookmark something, for me to look at, but didn’t need to hassle with an email or IM or whatever – just thought I’d find it interesting, you could tag it on del.icio.us with the tag “for:emory”.
Using the for: tag requires that you know the username of the del.icio.us user who will be the lucky recipient of your bookmarking, but it comes in handy if you regularly send things to friends, family, and office mates.
My favorite tag so far is the “!later” tag, which I use to shove things that I should read and reclassify or throw out later. I routinely keep things thing piled high and wade through now and then to thin things out or better categorize, but it serves quite well as a dumping ground for things I come across when I am actually working on something else – but don’t want to never see again.
Another tag I love to use is the “wishlist” tag, which allows me to “wishlist” anything, (not just on Amazon!) and allows other people to skim it for gift ideas, should they feel like getting me a gift. This hardly ever happens.
If you’re already using del.icio.us, you’ve probably not read anything new here. It is a very simple service to use, and it also has a very nice Export function so you can always retain your data and tag information, as well as move your data to other services similar to it (which really aren’t as interesting to me) should you so desire.
There are some neat third-party applications and tools for del.icio.us worth checking out: del.icio.us director [http://johnvey.com/features/deliciousdirector/] and the great del.icio.us Firefox extension [http://delicious.mozdev.org/] which works quite well and is much easier to use than browser droplets.
I have dug through the history and bookmarks of several browsers for far too long to not find del.icio.us to be a very welcome addition to the toolbelt. I encourage everyone to give del.icio.us a try. It has become a gold-mine of useful things from others, as well as given me a very convenient way for me to organize my bookmarks and make sense of the tangled web I weave.

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