Week 6 Thing 13: del.icio.us

Several months ago I set up a del.icio.us account. My original intent was to find a place to store my bookmarks so that I could access them from work and at home.

del.icio.us failed to impress me. As Ed points out, if all you want to do is organize your bookmarks and access them on different computers there are much better products out there that will accomplish this for you.

del.icio.us does not give you a nice organized, alphabetical list of your links. Instead del.icio.us is a social tagging site. I tag sites that are interesting to me, you tag sites that are interesting to you, we network, and in the end we have what is basically a list of the best of the Internet (according to del.icio.us users). For instance, if I go to http://del.icio.us/popular/library2.0 I can see what other delicious users are tagging as library 2.0.

It wasn’t until I met Stephanie Zimmerman, Training Coordinator for the Library System of Lancaster County, that I understood what social bookmarking is all about. Stephanie and I met in a Webinar. We discovered that we have a lot in common. We are both trainers for libraries. We are both moms (or soon to be moms). We connected after class through e-mail and shared links to our social sites: del.icio.us, Flickr, Bloglines.

I had been using all of these sites, but had never gotten the appeal of the social aspect of it.When Stephanie and I began sharing our tagged Web sites, photos, and blogrolls, I finally had my ah-ha moment about social networking. Here is someone with the same interests as me, that I have never met or spoken too, yet we have so much in common. Instead of e-mailing each other links to the great new library training sites that we find, we tag them in del.icio.us instead. Now when I go into del.icio.us, I can see everything that Stephanie has tagged and she can see everything that I have tagged. We are now networked. In addition to seeing all of the sites that Stephanie has tagged, I can also see Stephanie’s network and see what those people have tagged. If I find someone else who has tagged some sites that I like, I can add that person to my network.

This all goes back the wisdom of crowds theory mentioned at the Technology Summit earlier this year, or what I like to call our collective knowledge--a shared ocean of knowledge is more powerful than lots of individual pools of knowledge.

One of the nice features of del.icio.us is the ability to not only share links with the world but to tag them for specific people. For instance, if I find a really great site and I want to make sure Stephanie sees the site, I can tag this site for her. Below is an example of how to tag a site. Once you click the tag button, this screen pops up. The URL is automatically inserted along with the description. You type in your tags or click on recommended or popular tags from below. You can see there are also tags for each person in your network. I tagged this site for Stephanie. The next time she logs in to del.icio.us, she will have this link waiting in her inbox.

When Stephanie and I first started this social networking thing online we made a joke that it felt like we were "cyberstalking" each other. After all, we were sharing all of our tagged Web sites, photos, blog subscriptions, etc. this can feel kind of strange especially if you are a private person. But soon I discovered the benefits of social networking online. In addition to Stephanie, I have found a whole "network" of cyber-friends who find lots of interesting sites out on the Web. There is an old saying that two heads are better than one. With more and more people using social software the possibilities are endless.

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