Monday, January 13, 2014

Social Bookmarking

Over the holiday season I sought for a solution to keep my bookmarks between my private and my working computer in sync. Although Firefox comes with a synchronization feature, I aimed more to a solution based on social bookmarking. Back in the days when working for IBM Software Services for Lotus I used social bookmarking on the internal platform - guess what - Lotus Connections (now IBM Connections), which had a good browser integration (an IBM internally available extension, I don't know if that's now part of the product or a free or paid asset). However, the combination of persisting my bookmarks and sharing my (tagged) links with the community was a great added value to my work as it significantly decreased the time to find specific information, especially in the field I was working in and in the network of colleagues that worked in the same field.
So the requirements for my sought-for social bookmarking solution were set:
  • Browser integration being a substitute for Browser Bookmarks
  • Synchronization between different working stations
  • Support for Tagging, to ease search for information 
  • Possibility to share links with colleagues and friends
  • Possibility to have private links
I remembered, that there had been a social bookmarking site, if not THE social bookmarking site, called del.icio.us that had a good browser integration. So I started using it. But my experience with it was not that good and I guess it has its origin in the history of the site. Delicious was bought by yahoo, went through years of stagnation before it was sold again to AVOS, the company of the founders of youtube. The browser integration developed by yahoo doesn't seem well supported anymore (or at the moment?), especially the synchronization between browser and website brakes frequently and you have to sign out, delete the local bookmarks and sign in again (the sign-in of the browser extension is done via the website previous.delicious.com, that says everything). So I ended multiple times with editing bookmarks in the extension that were not persisted on the website or editing bookmarks on the websites that were not only not synchronized to the browser, but overwritten again with the data from the browser. On top of that, I don't find the web UI not very user friendly, it's overly simplistic and not very intuitive. So I sought for an alternative.

I took StumbleUpon into consideration, but it's poor browser integration (incompatible with NoScript plugin) was a no-go. Further it focuses more on news than knowledge sharing and has no concept of private links - everything is public. Though I find the idea behind stumble upon generally intriguing, it's not what I was looking for.
Google Bookmarks fell short a good browser integration and Evernote although allowing to capture merely everything is not really a social bookmarking site and therefore lacks some basic functionality.

After reading the good blog post regarding "10 Alternatives to Delicious.com" I tried out Diigo. And I must admit, that's exactly what I was looking for, even more. It comes with a browser plugin that allows to easily capture new bookmarks and also display your bookmarks in the bookmarks toolbar based on custom filters on the captured bookmarks. Bookmarks can also be organized into lists that can be filtered too. Further, the plugin has a sidebar to quickly search all your captured bookmarks. For me Diigo is a complete replacement for the browser bookmark management and helps me easily to keep in sync with different computer, including smart phones, as it also provides a neat app.
But Diigo is not only a social bookmarking tool. It goes well beyond that, its a knowledge working tool. With Diigo you can add sticky notes to web pages, highlight passages, comment on them, capture images, capture parts of a web page as image and share everything of that with the public or a group of people, and of course keep them private as well. So whenever I capture a bookmark, I can also highlight what was important for me from that page or why I looked up a certain information. When working in a group it helps, sharing certain information with each other.

There may be other alternatives in the web as well, but having found Diigo, I found a solution that works for me, so I stick with that.

tl;dr
Want to do social bookmarking and looking for an alternative to delicious? Try Diigo. It's a knowledge working tool.
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