Delicious Thoughts

Often I get posed the question, what’s your favourite Web 2.0 application?  For the longest time, it garnered an immediate response — “Delicious”.

That often comes as a surprise from most people because they were expecting me to say something else.  But, for me, it’s the networking and sharing of resources that put this application at the top of my personal list.  It hasn’t always been Delicious though.

When I first embraced the concept of social bookmarking, I originally wrote a piece of software of my own using an Access database.  While that was an interesting academic exercise, it requires more effort than some schmuck learning about web programming and active server pages in the evening when I should have been preparing for work the next day.  You can still see the remnants of my learning in another project that I called the Webquest Locator.  I no longer have access to this resource which I used to faithfully pruned and tweaked to make the resource useful.  There was also a Filemaker Pro version and a Palm OS version of the same thing as I explored different platforms and the concerns of portability.

But, I quickly learned that something of this magnitude was beyond the hobbiest in me and there were also some terrific alternatives available on the web for a nominal registration and some even for free.  Imagine that.  I recall spending one Sunday afternoon, after previewing the field, entering my goldmine of resources into my newly created Backflip account.  Backflip was awesome and a foreshadowing of the great things that would soon be made available to the world on other platforms.  I became a Backflip junkie and quite willingly shared the resources that I found with anyone who cared to take a look and on my own resource pages.  There was another popular service among my peers at the time called “IKeepBookmarks” which is still steaming along.

But, I had all of my eggs in the Backflip basket and it was terrific and reliable.  In the back of my mind, I also had the buyer beware feeling and part of my backup plan for my computer involved downloading my Backflip content and storing it offline “just in case…”

Then, this new resource called Delicious came along, I looked and liked, and spent some time setting up my account there.  It turns out this was a good move as this blog post from Backflip shows.  It is truly a sad thing.  However, I was able to continue with my sharing technique with Delicious.  More than just a service, it is the ease of working with the service that makes it so friendly.  In all browsers, there is an extension or add-on that allows for the saving of resources with just a click.  What started as a way of just bookmarking themes became a mission.  Currently with over 10,000 entries, my Delicious account has become my own personal search engine.  The power is in the fact that it’s web enabled.  This allows me to:

  • share my resources with anyone just by providing the link;
  • create a network devoted to sharing in Delicious itself.  I follow some folks’ sharing and a whole bunch follow mine;
  • daily ask Delicious to make a blog post for me to let anyone who cares know what my daily learning has found;
  • most importantly, it has become my own search engine.  My logic is that I’ve already found these resources, evaluated them, and thought that they were so valuable that I’ve bookmarked them.  So, when I’m looking for something in the future, I turn here first rather than the wild and woolly internet to make efficient use of my time.  In fact, with Google Chrome as a browser, I’m able to make my Delicious account my default search engine.

 

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Ever cautious, I still periodically download my content from Delicious so that I have a local copy.  I was somewhat aware that Delicious had become a Yahoo! product and was thankful when the web name changed so that it was a great deal easier to share.  del.icio.us is very difficult to share in a .com world.

I’ve had my battles with Delicious too.  With its “experimental” blog sharing feature, it would periodically have a mind of its own and make multiple posts to my blog account forcing me to do some scrambling to save blog visitors the agony of spam created by these hiccups.  But, man, when it works (which is 99.9% of the time), it is slick and a real time saver.  But, I’ve spent considerable time deleting unwanted posts, learned of a Firefox plug-in that lets me post to the blog manually, learned about Deadlicious for identifying dead links, and most importantly Delicious taught me the valuable technique of tagging.  Delicious was one of the very first services that made the concept of tagging an integral skill for me.  If you’re not tagging in this day and age, you might as well give your resources, blog entries, pictures a kiss goodbye because you may never see them again.

Despite all this, I’ve remained faithful to Delicious for the power, functionality, and networking that it provides.  In fact, it automatically shared what I bookmarked yesterday into my blog overnight, if anyone cares.

I’m guessing a year or more ago, I investigated a service called Diigo which, at the time, seemed to provide the same functionality at Delicious.  While Delicious seemed to be resting on its laurels with what it was, Diigo seemed to be under more rapid development in terms of collaboration, new functionality, and importantly tools for classroom collaboration.  I looked at it and liked it and developed an account there as well.  At the time, there was no easy way to move Delicious content to Diigo but bound and determined, I copied and pasted my way to a new account there.  Fortunately for those who use the resource now, there is an extremely slick way to move the resources across.  During the last bout of Delicious problems, I switched to Diigo’s blog posting service which does the job admirably except for some formatting issues.  In a true spirit of sharing, a Diigo employee happened to read my blog and indicated that I was going about it all wrong.  It wasn’t a problem that I needed to configure Diigo for, it was something that I needed to work with my blog CSS to do the trick.  How’s that for support?

As I watched all of this development with Diigo, it actually became my first spot for posting.  Like Delicious, it has excellent bookmarking tools and even Shareaholic supports both the Diigo posting and the Diigolet.  My routine is now that I post to my Diigo account and it automatically sends it across to Delicious.  At Delicious, I have my fantastic network that I’m proud to be a part of and it handles the blog posting for me nicely.  Hidden in all of this, Delicious now backs up my Diigo account or Diigo backs up my Delicious account.  Whatever spin you want to take, either works!

So, given all of this history with Delicious, I like so many others were a little taken back when the announcement that Delicious no longer fit into the Yahoo! strategic plan via an alleged camera image of a slide leaked from a Yahoo! debriefing.  I must admit to being surprised when it happened but my surprised turned to outrage when one of these self-acclaimed award winning Web 2.0 “experts” started posting a sharing information that Delicious was dead – download your content immediately or lose it completely based upon Internet gossip.  How irresponsible can you get?  This wasn’t the first time that this individual had stirred the pot for no apparent reason other than to see his internet reach go into overdrive.  I still feel that it’s irresponsible and have elected to ignore him into the future.  It’s so easy to do with a mouse click here and he’s into oblivion.  In the meantime, my Twitter stream and mailbox overfloweth with requests for what to do next.

While the Twitter world was predicting the end of the internet as we know it, I found it interesting that there was no announcement on the Delicious or Yahoo! sites about any of this.  In fact, while the tag “Delicious” was trending everywhere, it wasn’t on Yahoo!  Yesterday, a post on the Delicious blog revealed what the plans are for the service.  That seems to be a calm and strategic way of handling things.  Personally, I’m sorry to see that Delicious doesn’t fit into the Yahoo! strategy.  It seems to me that if their business is search, this would be a wonderful way of complementing their product.  I feel sorry for Yahoo!  With all of the discussion and ensuring blog posts, their brand has been hurt.  I hope that they are able to find an ultimate destination for Delicious that allows them to save face and for end users to enjoy uninterrupted service.

These days, when people ask me what my favourite Web 2.0 application is, I still reply that it’s social bookmarking.  I no longer solely rely on a single product.  Because keeping my resources safe and secure is so important to me, I do have a plan and a couple of backups.  Diigo, Delicious, and doug—off the record are where you’ll find my bookmarked resources and I hope that continues for a long time to come.

If there’s any good to come from all of this, perhaps it’s that Delicious will become a better product wherever it happens to land.  For the rest of us who like to live in the clouds, perhaps it’s a reminder that we all are subject to the business plans and strategies of these services.  Perhaps also it’s time to think about backups and Plan Bs.  Can you remember the heartbreak that you had when your first disk, diskette, or file went unrecoverable?  If you’re looking for alternatives or just a plain backup plan, Alec Couros has crowd sourced a resource of alternatives in the form of a Google document that may be accessed here.

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