I admit it, I was wrong. Some time ago when I first ‘discovered’ social tagging I weighed up the pros and cons of the offerings. Well, there were really only two choices at the time – Connotea was far too highbrow for me – so, was I going to Furl or Del.icio.us?
Del.icio.us was undoubtedly cooler – low-fi and funky. The sparse approach has that reverse graphic snobbery that google have employed so successfully. Furl on the other hand was slick. It integrated nicely with Firefox – widgets in the toolbar, contextual menus, integrated toolbar search, lots of export formats. Overall, it felt less like a beta release. I chose Furl.
Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t unhappy. Furl is great – it’s fast, slick, and does what I need, but recently at WE05 everyone was still talking about del.icio.us so I decided to revisit my choice and see whether I was still on the right track. What I found was enough to make me change my mind…
To be honest, the changes are not dramatic. I’ll start with Furl, because that’s easy – nothing has changed. I have a few dislikes that have grown to bug me:
- Unfriendly URLs – furl rewrites some urls to human readable form, but others are left as query strings
- Furl is a bit sticky – when you click on a link in Furl, it takes you to the detail page for that site, you have to click again, or on the correct (tiny) icon if you want to go to the site. Similarly, when you use Furl rss feeds, the url is not direct, it’s something like:
furl.net/forward.jsp?id=xxx. So, what happens when furl is offline, or they decide to start charging for the service? I feel a little bit locked in… don’t like it.
- Furl is limiting my tags – not in any physical way, the submission form lets me assign my existing tags or create new ones, but it uses the <select> element in multiple and single select versions and I’ve found over use that this doesn’t encourage me to expand or think too deeply about my tags. I tend to dump everything is just a few common categories.
So, what about del.icio.us? Well, as I said, not much has changed, but there are two things that tipped the scales for me…
- delibar – and others like it – essentially programs that leverage the open nature of del.icio.us to provide functionality not offered originally. Delibar is currently my favourite way of accessing my del.icio.us links, but the neat thing is I’m not locked into it. If something came up tomorrow that offered better or different functionality, I’d use it.
- tag suggestions – I can’t remember what the original del.icio.us submission form looked like, but the most recent version lets me add tags to my heart’s content just by clicking. It will suggest appropriate tags from my collection as well as any that others have used for the same page. This is shaping the way I tag – making me a better tagger – by offering me different and perhaps more appropriate ways of tagging the same items. I know I’m going to end up with a much more flexible and usable list of links.
So, the decision was made. The transition should have been painless – Furl lets me export my links very nicely, alas, the import function of del.icio.us is offline at the moment so that was a bit of a pain. Still, on the bright side, I was able to review and retag my links all in one operation – in the end it probably wasn’t a bad thing.
Like I said, Furl is great. It has way more features than del.icio.us as well as some really nice hooks and integration. For many people it will be the right one. For me though, del.icio.us feels like it ‘going places’ in a more positive fashion, (just check out their blog!), so I want to go along too!
Oh, and if you’re at all interested, my links are at del.icio.us/woowoowoo, what could be easier?
I do wonder about the ‘better tagging’ observation — like Flickr’s ‘interestingness’ feature, the tag suggestions in del.icio.us seem to subtly push us towards commonly-used words rather than accurate, interesting or personally-meaningful ones. We’re being encouraged to think like the pack, rather than independently.
That said, I have nevertheless filed a fairly respectable 504 links in del.icio.us since 21 June 2005 🙂
No way I’m a level 60 player like Foe Romeo, tho’
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