I am overdue for another post on teaching with technology. This post is about the social bookmarking tool delicious (or Del.icio.us as you may know it). Yahoo! announced that they are shutting down delicious. I decided to write my review anyway, since this review is mainly about social bookmarking tools, which can certainly exist whether or not delicious does.
I gave delicious a test drive this past year. I still am not sure what social bookmarking really is and how it can be effectively used, but I loved being able to save all of my bookmarks online and access them on whatever computer I am using. Bookmarks are tagged rather than put in folders (it’s like gmail’s labels vs. every other email client’s folders). Tag bundles can be used to arbitrarily group tags together under one umbrella. All of this is quite handy. Eventually, I found myself using delicious on my browser rather than my bookmarks folder. It was just easy to organize and access bookmarks than using my browser. Ultimately, I would say that delicious offers a mixture of three benefits that people can take advantage of to varying degrees:
- Bookmarks are available online and are always available.
- Bookmarks can be shared with others (and are shared with others whether you like it or not).
- Bookmarks are tagged instead of put in folders, which improves accessibility.
The only problem with delicious is that #1 and #2 are at odds with one another. The tags and bookmarks on delicious are public, which means that everyone can see who else tagged the same bookmarks within delicious, and outsiders can view the list of bookmarks that I’ve tagged. I’ll admit, that part of the social networking aspect is a bit creepy. However, it was easy enough to make bookmarks private, which essentially solves that problem. However, the tags for the bookmarks are still public (the solution here is to use inconspicuous tag names). I was annoyed that Yahoo! announces my bookmarks to everyone and their mother on Yahoo! sites. This meant that my relatives occasionally are perplexed by my choice of tags. I never figured out how to manage the privacy settings on delicious, and this comes from someone who was able to master Facebook’s complicated and ever-changing privacy settings. Delicious just didn’t have an easy and transparent way to manage privacy settings.
I can’t see too many uses for delicious in the classroom, unless I was teaching a course in which we needed to find many links to content specific material. If I were doing so, Delicious makes it easy to add others to my network (but in reality, I’ve added two people). We can create a common tag like the rubric for the course in order to find one other’s bookmarks. I had been hoping to use Delicious in a course I developed on algorithm analysis, but alas, the class was canceled and I wasn’t able to try this.
In retrospect, I found that benefits #1 and #3 are a big deal to me. I am surprised by that. But then again, browser bookmarks haven’t really changed since I started using browsers. They could really use some revamping to be useful, and a tool that offers serious benefits in that department could make a really big splash. Despite the demise of delicious, I am hopeful that there will be better bookmarking options in the future.
In the end, I am not surprised that Delicious is being shut down. It’s a handy little tool that I will miss, but it doesn’t offer enough to revolutionize how I do things online, and it’s certainly not a game changer with respect to social networking. The conflict between accessibility and privacy was always a concern for me, and maybe that was an issue for others. But I do hope that a new tool with better features replaces it.
Do you use delicious? How do you save and organize your bookmarks?