What use is the “social” aspect of del.icio.us?

Jaysea at Don’t Back Down is very sceptical on “social” bookmarks. On this comment of mine, he argumented that

  • if you know what name (or “tag”) people use for something, Google is as effective, if not more, in searching for it (let’s take “screencast“) than del.icio.us is
  • if you don’t know what other people call it, you’re lost, cause there’s no standard, no common vocabulary

Jaysea, I’m not sure whether you had a look at the screencast showing how del.icio.us helps to develop a common vocabulary? I do have to admit that the way it’s demonstrated, might not be really convincing, because it’s basically tagsurfing and looking how other people have tagged a specific link after the link was already submitted. That’s something people rarely, if not never do.

However, have you tried the “experimental post to del.icio.us”? Have a look at this nice explanation and screenshot: before submitting a post, you see a list of popular tags, your own tags, and the intersection of both: the “recommended tags”. So you can learn what tags other people use, and copy them with one click!

Another nice tool to take advantage of the “social aspect” it the Del.icio.us Firefox extension. Even when you don’t want to bookmark an article or page your reading, CTRL + SHIFT + Z gives you a list of the del.icio.us postings on a URL: for me this is a quick way to check the relevance and meaning of a certain page.

2 Responses to “What use is the “social” aspect of del.icio.us?”

  1. Tom De Bruyne Says:

    Hey Pascal,
    Some very interesting thoughts.
    Check out the MP3-download of Clay Shirky’s presentation on Etech at ITconversations.com. In his lecture “Ontology is overrated” he points exactly at the misconception about tagging that it should have any onthological (or classification value). Shirky first points at the serious problems with ontologies as such (originaly made for ordering shelve spaces in libraries) and then points to the value of folksnomies like del.icio.us. The exact value of folksonomies lays in the associative value of your tag on a certain post compared with how other peopel tagged the post.

    I completely agree with you that the coolest use of del.icio.us is to check out the relative importance of an article by checking who and how much people have pointed to it through del.icio.us. I use the Firefox plugin a lot.

  2. jayseae Says:

    I don’t disagree that del.icio.us can be useful for some. I don’t agree that it’s useful for me. I don’t care enough about my links (or other people, perhaps) to see how other people are tagging them. If I tag links the way someone else does, then I may not be able to find them again, and because I use bookmarks differently than many, that doesn’t work for me.

    I like tagging. What I don’t see is why anyone else would make use of my tagging system (such as it is). It likely won’t make sense to anyone else. And that’s okay. It just doesn’t float my boat.

    Now, seeing how other people have tagged it might be useful occasionally – once again, I never said that there was no value at all in del.icio.us, only that I didn’t find it as useful as some. For my purposes, a locally installed (locally on my server that is) copy of Scuttle works just as well, if not better – mostly because it’s available to me much more easily than del.icio.us, and if it doesn’t do what I want it to, I’ll change it. I like that.

    Oh, and it’s jayseae (don’t forget the e on the end). :)