Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Social bookmarking – Let’s Play “Tag”

Do you still bookmark your favourite web pages by saving them under “Favourites” on your computer? Have you ever needed to access one of those pages when you were working on something from a different computer? Wouldn’t it be more convenient if you could access those “favourites” from anywhere?

I answered “yes” to all three, but only because I hadn’t been aware that there was a better way to access my favourites, until now.

According to Lee LeFever, saving web pages to our browsers is the “old way” and has become messy, and tied to only one computer. The “new way” uses a web site to keep track of favourite web sites: this is called social bookmarking. His video “Social Bookmarking in Plain English” (http://www.commoncraft.com/bookmarking-plain-english) was a truly a great starting point to learn about this new concept. (I’m adding it to my list of helpful tutorials/videos that help the not-so-techy become more adept).

Another way to think of social bookmarking, is as the practice of saving bookmarks to a public web site and tagging them with keywords. Thus, social bookmarking creates a true web of resources and connections – one that is not limited to individuals and their folders but represents the interests and judgements of a community of users (Educause Learning Initiative). Tags play an important role in many web 2.0 tools: you can tag photos, blogs, and videos with the words that best describe or categorize them. I have discovered that learning to “play tag” is key in getting the most out of these technologies!

School Library 2.0 defines “tagging” as: “an open and informal method of categorizing that allows users to associate keywords with online content (webpages, pictures & posts). Unlike traditional library subject cataloguing, which follows a strict set of guidelines (e.g., Library of Congress subject headings), tagging is completely unstructured and freeform, allowing users to create connections between data in any way they want” (http://schoollibrarylearning2.blogspot.com/2007/02/13-week-6-learn-about-tagging-and.html). Certainly, I believe that this will have some implications on the way users search and use “natural language” to identify what they are looking for.

So, are you ready to try social bookmarking? Which one should you choose?

“The Social Bookmarking Faceoff” written by Alex Iskold (http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/social_bookmarking_faceoff.php ) provides a breakdown of the pros and cons of ten popular social bookmarking sites. Iskold concludes that “the social bookmarking market is dominated by del.icio.us and StumbleUpon. These leaders split the market, as they bring orthogonal approaches to bookmarking - del.icio.us builds a hierarchy for people to browse (it does related relationships, etc.), while StumbleUpon is more of a random discovery system.”

Since I prefer something a little more systematic, I chose to begin with del.icio.us as my social bookmarker. I found it easy to get started, until the point where the two new buttons were supposed to appear on my toolbar. This took a bit of time to address and figure out. By going to the FAQs page, selecting one of the questions under the category “the posting buttons”, then clicking on the hyperlink “bookmarklet buttons,” I was able to view a tutorial which showed me how to get the buttons to appear. Problem solved.

Out of my concern for encountering more potential road bumps, I decided to consult a video tutorial about del.icio.us which I found on TeacherTube (http://www.teachertube.com/view_video.php?viewkey=5e608e863301eb98e180 ). It helped me understand several steps in properly utilizing social bookmarking. I was able to upload my favourites from my browser onto del.icio.us by accessing “settings” and selecting “import/upload”. Very simple. I also began the process of tagging my bookmarks by clicking on “edit” of each bookmark and adding the keywords that best describe the content found at the web site.

At this point, I am ready to discover more of the features of my new web-based social bookmarking!


John Lobe said...

Hi Ronda, thanks for the post. Really helpful. I am going to try adding you to my network.
Your fan, John

Arlene said...

Thanks for pointing out StumbleUpon. Didn't come across that one. Arlene