The bookmark club
GCN Insider | Trends and technologies that affect the way government does IT
You could think of the Delicious
Web site (del.icio.us) as your browser's bookmarking feature on steroids. Like many potentially powerful technologies, social bookmarking seems deceptively simple at first. Use it awhile, though, and you start to see all sorts of interesting possibilities in collaboration and knowledge discovery.
The site, owned by Yahoo Inc. of Sunnyvale, Calif., offers a place to save your bookmarks. It has become terrifically popular in its four-year existence, gaining over 1 million users. Rather than saving a link on your browser's bookmark folder, you save it on the Delicious web site by clicking on a button that you install on the browser. To access these bookmarks, you can go to the Delicious site itself, which can be called up by clicking on another button. With this approach you can access your bookmarks from any computer, rather than having them held hostage by one machine.
When you save a link, a Delicious pop-up asks for descriptive words, called tags, to describe the link. And here is where the fun begins.
You can bundle tags into groups. You can see what other people have tagged. You can subscribe to tags, so you'll see when other people annotate pages with those tags. You can combine tags to see the intersection of links with both tags. A group project could use a Delicious page to share links of common interest.
Interestingly, Delicious' creator, Morgan Stanley analyst Joshua Schachter, shied away from prescribing any sort of predefined vocabulary, or taxonomy, that people must use on their pages. He decided to let people use whatever terms they wanted, figuring each person has his or her own unique way of seeing the world. This approach, subsequently dubbed folksonomy, sacrifices some precision for usability. The end product, however, can be handy for day-to-day use.
Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.