Sun 24 Apr
When it comes to social bookmark managers — hosted repositories where your favorite bookmarks mingle with everyone else’s — I’ve been more of a Spurl fan than a Del.icio.us devotee. Mostly, I’m responding to Spurl’s generally nicer user interface which, as a designer, I feel compelled to support. For all its spareness though (and indeed, spareness is essential to its appeal, I’m sure) Del.icio.us is the one that, undeniably, represents the most potential. Its user base is larger, and its principal author, Joshua Schachter, has just secured a dream investment scenario in which he has agreed to receive funds without giving up control of his own project. You can’t not root for that.
Apart from its rosy, near-term fiscal prospects, Del.icio.us also has the advantage, thanks to its open architecture, of a rabid user community that has produced a plethora of tools to help users manipulate their own store of bookmarks with greater ease. The deal-clincher for me is Cocoalicious, a very sharp desktop tool for Mac OS X that allows direct, browser-free management of my Del.icio.us bookmarks. Spurl has nothing like it, as far as I can tell.
Without this surfeit of third party tools, however, Del.icio.us is a relatively poor tool for doing anything other than adding your own bookmarks and free-tagging them in a so-called folksonomy. To import my bookmarks from Spurl, I had to use Del.icio.us Loader, a nice free service from Julian Bez that, unfortunately, led me to make some tagging errors during the import process (my own fault). As a result, I needed to delete a ton of bookmarks — a real pain to do directly on the Del.icio.us Web site. There may have been a third-party tool to do this too, but I didn’t look hard enough to find one.
Anyway, readers may have noticed that the Elsewhere section of this site is not managed with a social bookmarks service, in spite of its natural suitability for such. Ostensibly, the reason I cite for that is that Del.icio.us won’t allow me the fine-grained control over my own links that I prefer, specifically the ability to add star ratings for each.
Just as important, though, is the fact that I don’t feel entirely comfortable with storing content — and I regard those links as content — on anybody else’s server but my own. I use Del.icio.us (and before it, Spurl) purely to store bookmarks that I don’t think are appropriate for Elsewhere, bookmarks that I just want to remember for myself, not to share with others.
It does pain me a bit to know that Elsewhere is not participating in the great social experiment that is social bookmarking, but I’m a codger when it comes to trusting others with my own content. For an enterprise that is run entirely on free time and my own passion, the content I produce on this site — whether curated links or full-fledged weblog posts — is absolutely the most important resulting asset, and I feel more comfortable with it under my own purview and no one else’s.