Friday, August 01, 2008

Why do we bookmark?

The newly updated delicious.com (former del.icio.us) has brought people another round of interest about social bookmarking. Nova Spivack, the founder and CEO of RN/Twine, just posted his thought of the topic in his public Twine. After reading it, I still want to ask a question: why do we bookmark?

According to Mathew Ingram, bookmarking should already have been out of fashion. Once people have bookmarked a few links using social bookmarking services such as delicious.com, how many times do they really go back and watch their bookmarked items again? Based on Mathew's observation, the answer is very few and nearly to zero. Then the immediate conclusion must be that bookmarking is generally nothing but wasting of time. What value may we gain from bookmarking when we actually never watch the items bookmarked?

To response to Mathew's argument, Nova suggested Twine---his own baby---by saying that Twine will actually bring the experience of bookmarking to another level. Hence bookmarking is not about to die. By contrast, bookmarking is about to evolve.

I agree to Nova about evolution of bookmarking. Bookmarking is still a useful and valuable generic function that many Web users look for. There is just too much useful information on the Web and by nature our brains simply cannot remember everything. Bookmarking is always valuable but it also does need to evolve since the current bookmarking technology simply does not meet users' expectation. Is Twine really the solution as Nova advocates?

I don't want to make any judgment. Instead, I just want to share some experiences on how I handle my bookmarked items.

As many others, I often bookmark. I have used several bookmarking tools, from the most traditional IE and Firefox bookmarks to Furl to MyBookmarks to Digg to Twine to Google Reader. Weird that I have never really used delicious (I have a login on the site, however) even though it is the most popular service in this category for quite a long time. Google Reader + Twine + Firefox 3.0 bookmarks + Blogger is the best combination I have experienced until now though it is still far less than being satisfied.

In general, this is what I do.

1) Using Google Reader to grasp potential information of interest, staring the items that I do feel interesting.

2) Using Twine to categorize the items that are interesting, the majority of which is from the stared ones in Google Reader and a few others from random reading on the Web.

3) Using Firefox 3.0 bookmarks to record only the few links that I do frequently browse, access, or reference.

4) Writing blog posts (primarily it is at here Thinking Space though there are a few others places) that digest the bookmarked items into my own thoughts. After blogging, I will delete the bookmarked items from my list since they have already been part of my own thinking.

The reason I explains this process in this detail is to derive an answer for the question I raised at the beginning: why do we bookmark?

My answer is: I bookmark to absorb others' thoughts and turn them to be my own knowledge. Hence a real revolutionary bookmarking service should contain all the four steps I just mentioned but not just any one of them.

An ideal bookmarking service should have (1) an information collecting pipe such as Google Reader, (2) an information categorization and crude digest unit such as Twine, (3) an information winnowing repository such as Firefox 3.0 bookmarks, and (4) an eventual information refining factory such as Blogger. This is how bookmarking can really be useful and Mathew would never complain again.

Again, does anybody sense the term "mind asset" emerged again in this paradigm? Maybe it is a joking. I do feel, however, that someone would better having me help produce such a service. In fact, it could be revolutionary if one does have the vision of mind asset or it might be just another mixture of existing services---novel but not illuminating enough (and hence hardly be a great business success).

Referenced resources:

7 comments:

Adam Lindemann said...

Very nice.

Chris said...

I intend to write about this very subject soon, actually there are many reasons to bookmark that go beyond the norm.

For example I have successfully experimented with bookmarking to track vocabulary I am learning, the ability to tag bookmarked dictionary entries gives me organization and RSS feeds that are not available on the original online dictionary, I can pull various sub-sets of tagged vocabulary into a flash card program, review old stuff, remind myself where it can from etc.

Thinking in a RESTful manner the bookmark can also represent a resource and in this case because I can put the definition in the bookmark comments the bookmark itself becomes a dictionary entry.

Some of my vocabulary. I hope to be writing this up soon as my Chinese studies also extend into mashups and social networking. I have a presentation to make at an unconference in September and all the background material will end up in a twine.

A vocabulary tag of mine.
http://delicious.com/friedelcraft/zwword

Yihong Ding said...

thanks, Chris.

Bookmarking is still a fundamental function and there are many business opportunities beyond. I am looking forward to your thoughts of the topic. Please forward me a link once it is available.

Also, I am interested in your "unconference" at September. Is the material in Twine under your name?

Yihong

Chris said...

Hi yihong,

The material will be pulled into a twine I have a series of blog posts etc. to make first. The un-conference is one of the many barcamps this time in Bath England, there is already a Bathcamp twine, but there is no particular theme, people will just talk about whatever they are interested in. I decided to make my presentation about Web aspects (social web, web 2.0, e-learning, etc.) from the perspective of learning a foreign language online.

On Twine I use the name hucheng, I believe we are already connected, I discovered your blog there :). Part of the barcamp philosiphy is to make your stuff public so I intend to write up all my thought in various different places and then pull them together into twine with related links and materials, seems like a good use of Twine.

Yihong Ding said...

very interesting, hucheng. I am looking forward to your presentation.

Chris said...

Just re-read this, I like your reference to the use of Blogger as a refining factory.

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