You are what you bookmark

Well, probably not, but it seemed like a nice idea for a blog post title.

Leaving breadcrumbs from where you’ve explored the internet has always been important.  There was a time when I quite easily managed to find a web resource, whether it be article, application, or just something that attracted my attention, and then had this huge scrolling list of things to visit regularly in my bookmarks or favourites.

I did visit them regularly but kept getting the feeling that there had to be a better way.

When I would work with folks and pull up a website, the inevitable would be “Can you send me that link”?  It’s a compliment that there was something that I had found or was using that was of interest to someone else.

But, it does get tiring after a while so I continued to search for a better way.  I really fell in love with Backflip as an online storage of bookmarks.  It did everything that I wanted to do and there were buttons to enable common tasks that you could throw into your browser.  This becomes increasingly important when you are accessing your bookmarks in more than one location because “favourites” are just local to a particular computer.  There are a number of other services in this area.  Another common favourite at the time was IKeepBookmarks.  Above and beyond simple bookmarking, you could always form a query and post it in the middle of a webpage or a wiki.

But, to steal a comment from another “You’ve got to fish where the fish are.”

Increasingly, people were moving to a new service called  Kind of a cute spin off posted in the .us domain.  Same concept and I grudingly gravitated to the service.  It wasn’t easy.  There was no way that I could find to take the 1600 items that I had backflipped and just port them to the new service at the time that I was switching.  However, some determination on a summer afternoon and my over the top copying and pasting abilities got me there and I’ve never looked back.

I now use it for more than just a bookmarking service.  I still get the request, “Can you send me that link” and I no longer honour it.  Instead, I just send the requester to my Delicious home to find the resource and hopefully even more.  Once you bookmark tonnes of these things, you have to find some way to get them back.  Fortunately, Delicious allows for tagging of entries and so I do my very best to try to tag them with keywords that will allow for easy retrieval.

In my day job, it’s become a handy tool as well.  At the recently CIESC meetings (Computers in Education School Contacts), we did a little activity exploring services that I had marked as “web2.0“.  Lots of fun and it was so gratifying to find others take for a service that I thought had one particular purpose.  An art teacher with incredible skills demonstrated during our sharing session afterwards how bomomo could be used for artistic expression.  My jaw drogged.

But, it gets better.  Like good modern social networking, you can create your own network or have others join you in the discovery of the best of the web.  I’ll never sleep again!  But, it’s worth the explore.  Rather than hitting a wide open search engine that searches the entire web, why not turn to the network that you’ve created and only explore those titles that have been vetted by someone else?  Sure, it’s work up front but in the long run, it’s got huge payoffs.

But, it gets even better.  If you have a resource that’s particularly helpful, you can send it to others.  My problem is that I use the plugins for Flock or the favourites sidebar and so don’t always log into Delicious directly.  I feel so guilty when I do log in to find that there are things that have been sent me and I hadn’t acted on them immediately.

But, this puts us over the top.  In Ontario, we will have a new Computer Science curriculum for this September.  At the Ministry of Education Professional Development session, a demonstration of Delicious was intriguing and those of us in the audience were asked to tag appropriate resources as “icsxx” in honour of the ICS designation for all of the Computer Science resources.  Imagine the power if all Computer Science teachers participated.  Learning together, we could create a new, contemporary approach to teaching these new and exciting courses.

One of the “experimental features” is blog posting.  I’ve turned it on and ask Delicious to post to this blog daily with what I’ve found and bookmarked the previous day.  When there was a problem with this feature, a crafty programmer wrote a Delicious Blog Rescue Tool so that you could manually do the deed yourself!  Either way, you can see what I am (or at least what I bookmark).

We’ve come a long way from simple bookmarking and there are only greater things on the horizon for such a simple concept — remembering a good website.

Social Bookmarks:
Blogged with the Flock Browser

links for 2008-12-04