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Using Social Bookmarking Sites to Share Resources

Thu, July 26, 2012 2:35 PM | Laura Parshall
This month, Vicki Law, Senior Research Analyst at MIT, provides a guide to a handy way to organize and share Internet resources within your research office: social bookmarking sites. 

Using Social Bookmarking Sites to Share Resources

Are you looking for an easy and free way to share links to online resources with other researchers in your organization? Tired of searching through your emails to find that reference to a new web site that your co-worker sent? Then you may want to consider using a social bookmarking site or online bookmark management service to share web links. Social bookmarks allow you to organize, store, manage, and search bookmarks or links to web resources, and then share those links. A prominent feature of social bookmarks is the ability to easily tag links with relevant topics and shared vocabularies. The practice of using tags on social websites allows the user to easily categorize online content without a controlled vocabulary. (Social tagging is also referred to as a "folksonomy.")

Another benefit of using a social bookmark service is that your bookmark list is not hardware dependent. I have been using Delicious (http://www.delicious.com) for years to keep track of my bookmarks so that I can have access to the same bookmarks at home and in the office.

I am going to talk primarily about Delicious, but there are many other social bookmarking sites available, both free and fee-based. Wikipedia has an extensive list of the sites (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_social_bookmarking_websites). You can also do a web search on bookmark managers or social bookmarking to find other sites.

Delicious (formerly called del.icio.us), was introduced in 2003. It was an innovative service at the time and pioneered the use of tagging. Yahoo! acquired the service in 2005, and when they announced in 2010 that the company was closing Delicious, a lot of users panicked (myself included!) and looked for alternative services. Fortunately the founders of YouTube, Chad Hurley and Steve Chen, purchased Delicious.com in 2011, and it became part of their new Internet company AVOS Systems Inc.

In the Office of Development Services at MIT, we have two intranet pages available through our internal resource development site that provide web links to the established research services and documents that we use on a daily basis, such as LexisNexis, WealthEngine, and our guide to international research resources. This works well for most of our research needs, but we were looking for a way to save links to interesting sites that we wanted to keep track of but did not need on a daily basis. Since I had been using Delicious for some time, we decided to use that service to keep track of these alternate bookmarks. Delicious allows you to create multiple tags to categorize your content and to also include comments about the linked site. Although the Delicious site does not allow full text searching of your entries, you can do a search in your Delicious profile by tag name(s).

We created a single password that all of our researchers can use to access our bookmarks. You can decide to keep your links private (only available to those who have the password) or you can designate your links as public so that anyone may access them.

To add links to your Delicious profile, you can install the Delicious "bookmarklet" utility that is available on the Delicious site. The bookmarklet will add a button to your browser tool bar that allows you to save bookmarks to Delicious from anywhere on the web, even if you are not on your Delicious page. Alternatively, you can use the green "+Link" button located at the top right corner of any page on Delicious to open a link-saving box where you can type or paste in the URL that you want to save.

If you have existing bookmarks that you want to save, you can import those into your Delicious profile. Depending on the browser that you use, there are also add-ons that work with Delicious, like the delicious.com sidebar that works with Firefox and allows you to open a sidebar that lets you delete, edit, and search your bookmarks.

Another service that you may want to take a look at is Diigo.com (pronounced Dee'go), which characterizes itself as both a collaborative research tool and a knowledge-sharing community/social content site. Diigo allows you to highlight portions of web pages that are of interest to you and attach sticky notes to specific parts of the pages. When you bookmark a page with Diigo, you are saving the URL for the web page you are on and also saving a cached image of your page so that you have a copy of the original page along with notes and highlights, even if the content of the page changes. Diigo allows users to create tags to organize information and has several advanced search options, such as titles, tags, URLs, and full-text. Diigo offers three levels of services: the free plan allows unlimited bookmarks, 1000 highlights per years, and 30 cached pages, but you also see ads; the basic and premium plans offers more features for an annual price and do not have ads. Diigo may be a good alternative for departments that want to create a group knowledge repository with threaded discussions and annotations that can be shared by teams that are located in different regions/time zones.

Take some time to explore the social bookmarking options that are available and you will likely find one that fits the needs of your organization.


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