Delicious [used to be del.icio.us before Yahoo bought them and paid for the real domain] is a powerful social bookmarking tool that's great for organizing your bookmarks and making them available online from any computer. But its functionality goes well beyond what you would normally call bookmarking; Delicious can provide an unequaled collaborative research tool for business, and as a social networking tool, the service uses tagging to make it easy to find bookmarks that others have saved.

The following is advanced guide to getting the most out of Delicious. Please contribute to the discussion by adding your own tips to the comments.

From the Delicious home page you use the search window to find other pages that users have tagged. And the results are ranked by number of times the page has been tagged.

So on a term like "facebook virus" Delicious returns 336 results.

picture 551 Getting Real with Delicious   Del.icio.us Gets Global Wings and Link Love

However unlike Google, these results are handpicked pages from other Delicious users. The top listing was tagged by 51 other users. And from that one result you have a lot of options beyond clicking the link. Clicking on the 51 returns a list of all of the people who tagged that page. Clicking on any of the tags in the listing repeats the search on Delicious for that tag. And there is a "save" option to add the page to your bookmarks. And finally, the user name of the first person to tag the page is also clickable to view that person's main page.

Google search on the other hand returns 10,100,000 results. While the top results might be useful, the sheer number of results and the known gaming and SEO techniques used to drive listings to the top of the search pages might not necessarily give you the most useful results. If you think of Delicious as a filtered search result, 336 actual listings were tagged by actual people with the tag "facebook virus." It's like a hand-human selected search engine. And often the information on the delicious pages are more useful.

picture 56 Getting Real with Delicious   Del.icio.us Gets Global Wings and Link Love

google on "facebook virus" search

Notice ReadWriteWeb is the #1 listing on Delicious. You can bet that RWW has a well-researched deep discussion of the topic as opposed to PCWorld or CNET [no offense guys] that are covering the topic as a media event not as a real-world issue requiring solutions. The Google top results are written by journalists who are hoping to attract your eyeballs and sell you some anti-virus software, as opposed to working-solutions-writers for RWW who are hoping to attract your eyeballs and sell you some anti-virus software. The difference is that on Delicious your peers thought the RWW article was worth bookmarking. On Google, some SEO folks and some media conglomerate folks decided to jockey their "Facebook Virus" story up to attract your attention.

In the simplest terms, you can use Delicious any time you would use your browser to bookmark a site. Delicious provides buttons for Firefox and Internet Explorer that allow you to access the bookmarking info page remaining on the site you are interested in. Clicking on the "tag" button pops up a window over the open page and allows you to add a Title (pre-filled with the page title information), a description and any tags that make sense to you. There is also a check box "Do Not Share" that allows you to keep any of your bookmarks private. Clicking on the TAG button brings up the following screen.

picture 51 Getting Real with Delicious   Del.icio.us Gets Global Wings and Link Love

delicious bookmark popover

You can see there are also Recommended Tags (tags that you have used previously), Network Tags (a simple way to share the link with others in your network) and Popular Tags (tags that others on Delicious have used on this page).

So in simple terms I can bookmark a site using Delicious in the same ways I would use the browser to bookmark the page. But there are a lot of other things I can do now that I've added a piece of content to my Delicious site.

  1. Bookmark and share the link and your description and tags with others. [You can even set Delicious to post your links to Twitter or Friendfeed.
  2. Find everyone else on Delicious who has bookmarked the same page.
  3. Send your bookmark to a network of other "trusted" Delicious friends. [I can send a technical link to my dev friends and not to my entire Delicious network.]
  4. Make a tag for a specific brand or product I am interested in and see what everyone else is bookmarking with that same tag.
  5. Create an RSS feed of my links and tags to be read by others or used by me in a different program, like FriendFeed.

So having used Delicious since SXSWi 06 I have developed a large number of links. [949 953 1046 as of this article.]

picture 52 Getting Real with Delicious   Del.icio.us Gets Global Wings and Link Love

my delicious page header

And it is hard to even imaging what that number of links might look like if I pulled down my bookmarks menu in FireFox. I don't know but something tells me it might choke.

But with Delicious I have a bunch of ways to access, sort and retrieve my collection of links. [I sometimes refer to my Delicious site as "my brain on the internet" because if it's of major importance to me I will either blog about it or add it to my Delicious page and come back to it later.]

  1. I can view my links as various tag clouds. [Tag clouds were just gaining popularity when Delicious was launched. Here is a post I recently wrote explaining Cloud Navigation as opposed to Cloud Computing]
  2. I can "bundle" or create groups of links using their tags.

An example: I might have an educational website that I am interested in for both my kids to learn from but also from a programming or interface aspect. Using tags and bundles Delicious allows me to create a flexible and dynamic taxonomy of my links as I'm going along. So I collect "links" as I roam the web and easily add tags like "UI" and "education" and "math" to the pages so I can find them later. And then with bundles I can add the example page to both my "developer" bundle and my "kids" bundle.

picture 531 Getting Real with Delicious   Del.icio.us Gets Global Wings and Link Love

A lot of the value of Delicious to me is using it as a capture and retrieval system. And I occasionally go into my account and clean up old tags, outdated pages and reorganize bundles and tags. And when I am done, I have a dynamic database of "my hand-selected information" that I can use myself or share with others.

And finally, Delicious as a whole is an amazingly powerful search engine for any topic that you are interested in. So rather than worry about "your" bookmarks, you can jump on Delicious and type in random tags like: "iPod, software, reset, troubleshooting" and Delicious will bring back results that actual humans spent time cataloging and creating. So the usefulness of the results are often much more accurate than a Google search, for example. And the search results are ranked by how many times a certain page was actually hand bookmarked by others using Delicious.

picture 54 Getting Real with Delicious   Del.icio.us Gets Global Wings and Link Love

And that is the power of Delicious for crowd sourcing, dynamic information gathering and retrieval, and leaving a trail of bookmarks behind you as you travel the web in search of what's next. And the search engine within Delicious might have a good handle on "what's next too!

@jmacofearth
permalink: http://bit.ly/real-delicious

Additional Information:
Getting Real is about getting your work done, having fun and doing it with as little extraneous effort as possible. A tip of the hat to Scott Berkun, GTD, 37 signals and 43 Folders. Without your pathfinding, where would I be?

Getting Real with Twitter is the forthcoming book on Twitter Business and Twitter Etiquette and Keeping It Real on Twitter.

Getting Webwork Done is a process I am documenting about finding tools and techniques to get the internet done more efficiently. See also Speed-the-web and Twittertools tags.

Seeking the Uber App was the initial quest into efficiency and getting things done with an ultra SocialMedia-eCommerce-Browser app.

Sharing is nice for everyone.

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