In one of my previous lives teaching students how to use technology, I was always baffled (and frustrated) by how convoluted and complicated it was to create bookmarks (or sometimes called “Favorites”) in a web browser. I can remember trying to demonstrate how to bookmark a web page and then create folders to store all of those related bookmarks. Not only did this require a lot of thinking, it also resulted in a massive list of sites that kept growing and growing, making it close to impossible to find the site you were looking for. Add to this the inability to access your bookmarks on any computer, and this system really didn’t work very well. Now, things have changed . . .
Enter the era of the interactive Web and social bookmarking.
There are a lot of social bookmarking sites out there, but I’m just going to talk about the one I use: delicious.com. It actually has a strange spelling (http://del.icio.us/), but if you just type in delicious.com in the address bar of your browser, the site will come right up. Let me tell you what social bookmarking is and how you can use it:
Social bookmarking is simply a way for you to share and access other people’s bookmarks and access all of your bookmarks from any computer you are working on. For me, this is techno-heaven, since I work on computers all over the place (or so it seems.) You can install delicious.com buttons on your browser and when you get to a webpage you want to bookmark, you simply click the “Tag” button. (I’ll talk about tags somewhere down the road in this blog, but just think of tags as indexes or key words you might use in a search for something.) Apple computers are great at indexing, so I never construct elaborate, hierarchical folders anymore. (Again, that was a killer to teach!)
How to Get Started
Register for a free account at delicious.com. When you’re signed in, your delicious bookmarks will be available under http://del.iciou.us/yourusername. (You can also enable private bookmarking in the settings area of your delicious account if you don’t like the public aspect of this service.)
You can import bookmarks from all of your computers to your delicious.com account and never have to go back to that darn bookmarks menu item on your browser again. Here is a link that explains how to do this: http://del.icio.us/help/getstarted
How to Add a Bookmark
The easiest way to bookmark is to use the buttons delicious.com will install on your browser (I use Mozilla Firefox). Sometimes it’s hard to find this link after you have created an account, so here is the link that explains how to do this (it’s easy, believe me): https://secure.del.icio.us/register?step2
Below is what the buttons look like after they are installed on Mozilla Firefox:
Two buttons will be installed on the toolbar of your browser. The one that is the square will open your delicious bookmarks and the one that says “tag” will allow you to quickly bookmark and tag your websites. Tagging is important, since this is the way you will locate your bookmarks. It’s essential that you tag your websites with words that will identify your bookmarks. For instance, if you are collecting bookmarks on social bookmarking, you would probably tag them “socialbookmarking,” (without the quotation marks.) Tags can only be one word, although you could put a dash between the words “social-bookmarking.” However, you may not remember that you put in a dash, so just combining two words as one is probably a safer bet. The more tags, the better, in most cases, since you may not remember exactly how you tagged or identified your bookmark. If this sounds more difficult than putting stuff in folders, just remember that you need to remember EXACTLY the folder in which you put your bookmark, which might be embedded. It’s easier for me to use tags to find stuff than to remember the folder I put it in. But that’s just me, too.
One more thing . . . and I will use my ever-patient husband as an example here, since he is somewhat skeptical at times about my enthusiasm for all of these tools. When I showed him delicious.com, he didn’t really get it. (Sorry, Carl.) One thing that confused him was looking for his bookmarks on delicious.com, since when you log in, the default search is on all of delicious.com, not your own delicious.com account. The pictures below will highlight this potential confusion:
If you click “Search” on the first box, you will search all of delicious.com bookmarks. By clicking the drop-down box and selecting “your bookmarks,” you will only search for “socialbookmarking” on your delicious account. I can see how this would be confusing and frustrating, Carl.
So . . . try out delicious.com and let me know how you like it (or not.)
Helpful Hint for searching on your computer: If you are an Apple user you can find a file almost instantly after typing in just a few letters in the search box of your Finder dialog box (Apple Spotlight). If you are a Windows user, I would suggest downloading Google Desktop, which is fabulous and finds stuff on your computer and more. Again, more on this later.