Do you use del.icio.us? If not, you might want to. I've been using it for a while now, and the more I use it the more I like it.
What is del.icio.us?
It's a social bookmarking site. Here's a description in their own words.
Why don't you just tell me what social bookmarking is?
Okay, fine. Really, it's exactly what it sounds like.
Just like your web browser's "Bookmarks" menu, you post links that you want to remember to your account. Unlike your web browser's "Bookmarks" menu, the links are shared and visible to anyone who wants to find them. You can even see what your friends are bookmarking, and turn around and bookmark the same sites yourself if you find them interesting.
When you add a bookmark, you can provide a brief comment or excerpt to help remind you what it is. You can also assign tags to help categorize links. Since it's public, your list of bookmarks is accessible from any computer you might be at -- not just your home computer.
For example, here's my del.icio.us, containing a bunch of random links that I thought were worth remembering for one reason or another:
Notice the nice, easy to remember URL. That's very typical of del.icio.us. Also, take a look at the links on the right side of that page -- I tag everything, and those links make it easy to find all links with a certain tag. Maybe you're only interested in my Apple links, or my PS3 links:
You can also combine tags. Here are my links that are tagged with both programming and humor:
Easy, huh? And the best part (for me) is that if I want to remember a link I saved six months ago, I can do the same thing. I just hop over to my page and zoom down through the categories until I find it. Heck, I don't even have to be on my own computer!
Isn't there some other site that does this?
Yes and no. According to Wikipedia's entry on social bookmarking there have been several similar services over the years, going back to 1996 or so. But most of them died in the dot-com boom and bust. del.icio.us was founded in 2003, and is probably one of the earliest "Web 2.0" sites. It was recently acquired by Yahoo!, so it's not going anywhere.
You might be thinking of Digg or Reddit, which are social news sites. But that isn't quite the same thing. In fact, I find that social news starts out cool but quickly gets annoying. Sites are inevitably biased by the demographics of the top users, and the comment threads are worse than useless. del.icio.us has its own version of social news, in the hotlist and popular links accessible from the main page. But you can also ignore them entirely.
You might also be thinking of Twitter, but that's more of a lifeblogging site. You could abuse Twitter to create a sort of social bookmarking system, like someone I know did, but that's not really the site's intention.
It also sounds a little like Delicious Library, but there's absolutely no connection. :-)
What else makes it cool?
You can subscribe to the links of other people -- both via the web and via RSS. So if you find interesting people who have accounts, you can see what they're paying attention to. You can view my network if you want to.
People whose links I follow include:
- Mark Pilgrim, known for his "Dive Into" series on Greasemonkey, accessibility, and more. Mark also aggregates his links on diveintomark, but I follow them on del.icio.us.
- Jon Rentzsch, of Red Shed Software and C4.
- Dave Shea, web designer and creator of CSS Zen Garden.
- Daniel Jalkut, another former Apple employee and owner of Red Sweater Software.
- Rosyna from Unsanity, an old friend from #macdev on IRC.
- John Gruber of Daring Fireball used to use his account, but stopped using it once he realized he could make people pay him for the RSS feed instead. :-)
What do you like most about it?
First, it provides a nice sort of link-blog functionality without having to spam everyone with a ton of small posts. This blog, as I've said before, is not a link blog. It's more of an essay blog. If you want random links from me these days, however, you can get them -- just go to my del.icio.us.
Second, it gives me a way to offload some of my memory to a computer. It's not as extreme as some of the current experiments in lifeblogging, but it's a good compromise for me. And since my bookmarks are on a public server run by Yahoo! I don't really need to worry too much about backing them up or continually copying them from one machine to another. Someone else handles that.
Third, I like checking out the bookmarks of other people. It's pretty nifty to fire up my RSS reader and see that Rosyna has posted some crazy Japanese Spider-Man video, or that Mark Pilgrim saved an interesting article about XML , or that Rentzsch just saved a nifty Mac programming link.
Are you using del.icio.us? If so, post a comment or drop me an email letting me know your username.