I’ve recently joined the wave of web users to try online bookmark tools – specifically del.icio.us – known as a ‘social bookmarking’ tool.
Del.icio.us is simple and, for what it does, it works very well. The social aspect is the real revelation though. You bookmark a page and see that others have also bookmarked it, so you get to explore things that have interested them. I have already found dozens of excellent sites I would never have found in other ways.
Still, I’m a picky bugger, and I find it lacking polish and integration.
I have now dropped del.icio.us in favour of Furl. This is state-of-the-art in online bookmarking. In beta, run by Looksmart and (at the moment) free, it has all the appeal of del.icio.us, but with added extras like: bookmark importing (yay!); page snapshots; export to bibTex, endnote etc.; smarter handling of the social aspects; superb integration with firefox and IE; integrated contact management; several different feeds for my weblog (coming soon!) etc…
While I was ferreting around I found another excellent tool that people might like to explore… Connotea. This is a much more hard-core academic bookmarking tool, though still in development. A level of polish and integration somewhere between del.icio.us and furl, but definitely one to watch. The only problem with connotea was that I felt a bit low-brow posting my ‘fun’ urls, when everyone else on the site was posting scholarly journal articles… the latest postings show up on the front page!
I still feel there is plenty of room for improvement and further integration that would significantly benefit the academic user/researcher/student, but I feel these tools are going to change the way we look for new information, having huge implications for search engines, metadata etc. If you think about it, they are profiling you, then finding other users with similar interests and then offering recommended urls based on that information – you are multiplying your searching and filtering powers for every user that you silently collaborate with. Compelling stuff!