Why aren't you using del.icio.us???

I've just undertaken a demo of del.icio.us for a friend, who's read my previous articles and told me that I undersell it. Personally, I think I've been a bit of a mono-maniac on the subject. So for those of you who don't get it. del.icio.us is Great. Its a fantastic example of, the next problem to be solved.

  • del.icio.us is a remote bookmark file
  • With del.icio.us you only need one bookmark file, so none of your bookmarks are ever somewhere else
  • it is always available (well nearly always)
  • some one else backs it up
  • mozilla & windows can't \*\*\*\* it up

and all this is before you look at tags, tag clouds and the social cooperative aspects.

The utility of tags is somewhat controversial, and I will get onto the row someday, but cloud tags are great. The picture below has the tags organised in "Cloud" view, it also has some tag bundles defined. My article, "Tag or Menu" also talks about this, and is also illustrated.

About Bundles

The size and weight of the token in each list is significant, as is colour. Because of the way in which tags are allocated and the fact that a tag does not have a hierarchical relationship with other tags, fuzzy or flexible searches can be used, and you do not need to know which folder the bookmark is in to find it. When making these queries, when you select a tag, all related tags turn green and if you have the tag cloud view, you are offered a "+" or "or" option. The "+" button adds to the filter i.e. "Movies" + "Actors", selecting the text token is an "or" choice and refreshes the list with all URL's qualified by the new tag. (This is better illustrated here...).

How can I emphasis this! Confused. A traditional bookmark file, or favourites folder mandates that a URL is held in a folder structure, which unless you create aliases, is the only copy of the URL in the structure. This is not true of del.icio.us clouds. Selecting a tag is like opening a folder, but you can see them all the tags at once. For instance, if looking for Kate Winslett fan sites, I could search on Kate Winslet (sic), if I was certain how to spell it, or I could filter the whole list on Movies + Actors, which would show me both my two KW sites together with some other sites including Cult Sirens. The alternative folder/hierarchical approach would mean that I must know that both Actors and Movies are contained within the Culture folder, and I would need to know the order (hierarchically) of "Movies" & "Actors". With cloud views, you need to remember less to find what you know!!! I know!.

Clouds take less room on the screen and you don't need to scroll pages to read the whole list, unless your tag bundle list is very long, or screen very small.

Personally I have a known private list of 1st order tags, which is pretty small and I try to ensure that every bookmark has only one 1st order tag. ( I am translating these to bundles i.e. the heavy bold black tokens with the expand/collapse buttons, but I have left the corresponding tags in the general "tags" bundle. i.e. I have a travel tag & bundle, and the "travel" tag is in the "tags" bundle.) This personal rule of 1st order tags means that Size emulates hierarchy. This might be useful for very structured thinkers, or certain groups of tags, and means that 1st order tags are easier to find within the cloud. The bundles are something I am new to. I started using them while they were advertised as beta quality and there is some oddness. A bundle is an object with a list (or set) of tags as members. In theory, any tags, whose URLs are wholly members of a bundle should transfer from the general "tags" bundle to the specified bundle. I hope that they add readability to the cloud as when I sit down to read my bookmarks, I have an idea about what I'm going to do, so you can see from my current list that I have "travel" "Technology" & "Culture". I shall probably add an "eating & drinking" and my resources i.e. frequently used sites. The bundles means that I am offered relevant tag list based on what I'm looking to do.

So far, I have only ranted about reading your bookmark file. Obviously because you need to tag your URLs as you write them, its a bit more work to bookmark a site. You also need to register your username with them. The del.icio.us button page, has javascripts that you can drag and drop onto your browser and you can then use these to bookmark your sites. These bookmarklets help you tag the URLs, offering other people's tags and making a guess from your tag list. They also have an auto-completion facility. Fantastic. The auto completion feature is illustrated below.

Screenshot - remember this

The line immediately below the tag entry box is generated by the script and changes with each letter. You can see I have typed in the "r" and the script offers me tags starting with "R". This enables me to slow the language entropy, but it won't stop it.

The final advantage is the RSS feed(s). I have got my local RSS browser pointed at all my links, others might be interested in my travel feed. One interesting thing is that because the default order is in real time, you can see what I've been doing, planning my holidays, tidying up my office, or researching for work. You might even get some good ideas; I showed it to a colleague yesterday who was interested in the Berlin links. Another cute trick is to occasionally browse either the most popular or most recent across the whole community. Sometimes its not very interesting, but sometimes its great and I find some real nuggets.

I've still not worked out the real community uses for the site yet, possibly because my close friends outside work havn't yet picked it up, and we still use the 'phone to talk, but the 'mail' solution looks interesting. The fact that these sites are available for viewing by everyone, also means that if you do use the Internet for finding and browsing various smut sites, you'd either best have an anonymous user id, or refrain from using del.icio.us.

What are you waiting for?

My other articles: Tag & Menu, Using Clouds,del.icio.us &_community, The RSS Revolution, Where's that link_gone?

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