Bookmarks have been around since books themselves. In fact, as long as people have bound together large stacks of paper and had trouble remembering where they last left off, anything from a small piece of parchment to a plastic strip with a frilly string has been enough for readers.
It makes sense, then, that the digital tool we use as a kind of placeholder for our favorite Web sites and pages is also called a bookmark. Whether it's a meticulously organized list of frequently visited sites or a few articles you'd like to save in order to finish later, most Web browsers allow us to bookmark pages and keep track of sites if we'd like to return to them. Remembering all of those long URLs, some of which have convoluted naming conventions, would take an extremely good memory. Want an example? The next time you're fooling around on YouTube, try remembering a video's specific URL. It's not so easy, is it?
However, bookmark tools, as useful as they are, have a minor downside. Let's say you're traveling for work, and you're staying in a hotel with Internet access. Your boss has sent you an e-mail that asks for an update on the research you're currently working on. Naturally, you've carefully kept track of every piece of information you've searched for over the past month. So, what's the problem? It's all bookmarked on your desktop computer, which is, of course, back at the office.
One Web site in particular, known as Delicious, offers a solution to this problem. Delicious, formerly known as Del.icio.us, is an online bookmarking destination where users can save bookmarked sites on a personal account. With a username and password, it's possible to call up your own unique database of links from practically anywhere in the world, regardless of whether or not you have your personal computer with you at the moment. And Delicious is more than just a bookmark site -- it's a social bookmarking site, which means there's also a focus on sharing along with storing.
Although Web surfers usually can click and drag URLs or icons into their browser's bookmark folder or toolbar, saving bookmarks on Delicious is a little bit different. In fact, there's more than one way to add bookmarks to Delicious.
After setting up an account and getting your username and password ready, you can do one of three things once you come across a site you'd like to mark. Delicious recommends using a browser add-on. This installs a small application onto your Web browser (a button) that reads "Tag," and clicking on it brings up a separate window that lets you save the bookmark.
There's also what's called a bookmarklet, another small button that specifically goes onto your bookmarks toolbar. The third way, however, represents the original way to add a bookmark. By simply accessing the Delicious Web site and logging in, you can manually create a bookmark by clicking on "Save a new bookmark," which is often on the top right of every page. This last option is what comes in handy when you're not at your personal computer with the browser you normally use. And you can log into the Delicious home page from any computer with Internet access to keep track of your links.
Once you save a bookmark, you can also edit it, giving it a title, informative notes and tags. Tags, one-word descriptors that users can add to help remember and organize links, are one of the more important aspects of Delicious bookmarks, and we'll cover why they're so helpful in the next section.
So where does the social networking aspect of Delicious come into play?
Benefits of Delicious
The immediate benefit from Delicious is the fact that users no longer need to use the browser that's running on their desktop or laptop to keep track of sites. If you're at work but need to bring up a link you found on your home computer the day before, you can find it easily if you thought to save it on Delicious. If you're on the move, whether you're at the library or even on vacation in a different country, an account with Delicious could make it easier and more efficient to recall bookmarks and save them for later use.
But Delicious is more than just a simple place for people to store their favorite Web sites on one account. There's a social, Web 2.0 aspect to Delicious that adds another level of interaction and communication to bookmarking. When you save a bookmark, you have the option of sharing it publicly. For instance, if you find a great article or blog post and save it publicly, anyone else searching Delicious can view the same link. On top of that, if you post a bookmark, other members can add that link to their set of bookmarks, too. Bookmarks that are popular get highlighted, and what naturally happens is that content that's considered to be more interesting or useful to users tends to make it to the top. You can go the opposite way, too. In other words, if you don't want anyone else seeing the sites you bookmark, you can mark them as private. Then, only you will be able to see your bookmarks.
Tags also play a big part in the social-media aspect of Delicious. Aside from helping you remember specific categories with simple, one-word descriptors -- for instance, an article about polar bears could have the tag "wildlife" or simply "bears" -- popular tags create a collective library across the site for people to share similar interests. These tags become their own URLs when you add them, so if you wanted to see everyone's bookmarks on wildlife, you can just visit http://delicious.com/tag/wildlife. You can add as many tags to a bookmark as you want; the only requirement is that the tag has to be one word since the tags will eventually become part of the URL. If you're tagging a subject on something with more than one word, it helps to use abbreviations or dashes, and Delicious provides a list of popular tag names when you're saving or editing bookmarks to make keyword selection a little easier.
For more information about Delicious and other related topics, follow the links on the next page.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- Delicious.com. (July 1, 2009) http://delicious.com/
- Delicious.com. "Frequently Asked Questions." (July 1, 2009) http://delicious.com/help/faq