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learning.now: at the crossroads of Internet culture & education with host Andy Carvin

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May052006

Tag - You’re Delicious!

Some of you may have already noticed in the right column of this blog a little box that says DEL.ICIO.US LINKS. A couple people have already emailed me saying how cool this is, but I would guess that for every one teacher who thinks this, there are probably another 50 or 100 teachers scratching their heads, having no idea what we’re talking about. So let’s take a look at the wonderful world of del.icio.us.

First, though, I want you to take a look at your Web browser. Chances are, at the top of your browser window, there’s probably a menu titled “Bookmarks” or “Links” that you use for saving all of your favorite websites. The latest research suggests that there are approximately one gazillion websites out there (source: Wikipedia), and four out of five doctors will tell you that no one in their right minds should ever try to memorize the Web addresses for even one-tenth of that amount. So that’s why the Web demigods invented bookmarking: it’s a nice, simple way to keep a list of your favorite websites handy for whenever you use your computer.

But bookmarking with your Web browser has its limitations. For one thing, you’re saving your bookmarks only on your computer. If you’re using a desktop PC in your classroom, that means you can’t bring your bookmark collection with you when you go home or elsewhere; it also means you can’t share your favorite bookmarks with your colleagues very easily. Meanwhile, categorizing bookmarks has its limitations. Sure, you can organize them into neat little folders for each class you teach, but it’s not like you can tag them with relevant keywords or jot down some notes about each website very easily.

That’s where del.icio.us comes in. del.icio.us (yes, it’s pronounced “delicious,” and written in lower case) is a community bookmarking tool. By “community,” I mean the entire online community - everyone with Internet access. del.icio.us allows you to share your bookmarks with the entire world, accessible from any online computer. This means that you could get on an airplane today, travel 36 hours to some small cybercafe in rural Indonesia (or perhaps more realistically, the computer lab down the hall), and access your list of favorite websites instantly. Portable bookmarks. If that’s all del.icio.us was, I’d give its creator a medal. But it gets better.

Once you’ve signed up for a free del.icio.us account, they’ll supply you with what’s called a “bookmarklet” - it’s a kind of Web link you install in the toolbar of your Web browser. (And if you use the open source Firefox browser, this bookmarklet is already embedded in the Web browser’s toolbar.) This allows you to add new websites to your del.icio.us collection. You just go about your business on the Web until you find a website you want to visit again, then click the bookmarklet on your Web browser. del.icio.us will then automatically open a window that lets you write any notes you want to save about the website, as well as “tag” it with keywords.

Tagging is perhaps the greatest strength of del.icio.us. When you tag a website, you identify it with certain words of your choosing. For example, if you wanted to tag my blog (hint hint), you might tag it with keywords like andycarvin, blogging, education, or americanhistory. (Note how tags will incorporate multiple words together as if you were writing in German - that’s just the way taggers do it.) These tags allow you to categorize your bookmarked websites in whatever way you want. There’s no official taxonomy required, Dewey Decimal or otherwise. In fact, it’s so unofficial, it’s often referred to as a >folksonomy. The idea behind a folksonomy is to encourage a community of users to tag websites with words that have meaning to them and their peers. This is important because del.icio.us lets other Internet users access your collection of bookmarks and tags.

Let’s say you’ve tagged my blog with the word “edtech,” because it has to do with education technology. The most basic thing del.icio.us will let you do is review a list of all of your bookmarked websites using that particular term. For example, here’s a list of all of my bookmarks tagged edtech on my learning.now del.icio.us account. Additionally, del.icio.us will let you explore all other websites tagged by other del.icio.us users with the same keyword, and display them by order of recent popularity. This is a really powerful tool if you think about it, because it lets you find new websites that are considered most relevant and current by other del.icio.us users.

So that’s what I mean by a community bookmarking tool. Rather than keeping your collection of bookmarks to yourself, you get to share them with peers, and gain access to their bookmarks as well. In terms of this particular blog, what I’ve done is set up a learning.now del.icio.us account for myself. This allows me to create a collection of links related to the subject matter discussed on the blog and share those links with all of you. The latest links will always be listed on the right side of each blog entry, while the full collection of links can be found here.

Meanwhile, you can get in on the action, too. Go to del.icio.us and set up a free account. Then, whenever you see a website that you think would be of interest to readers of learning.now, tag that website using the keyword learningnow. Doing this will automatically add the website to an archive of all websites tagged with learningnow. They’ll also be displayed in the del.icio.us box on the blog, which gets updated automatically each day. Of course, allowing people to do this requires an implicit level of trust: I’m hoping all of you will use this feature responsibility. Unfortunately, if people start to use the tag to spam the blog or post content that’s just not appropriate, we’ll be forced to remove the listing from the blog. I truly hope it doesn’t come to that. But that’s why they call this Web 2.0 - we’ve entered a new world in which anyone can contribute their ideas to the online community. But as Spiderman says, with great power comes great responsibility. So I hope all you superheroes out there use this power responsibily - and have some fun with it as well.

Coming soon, I’ll post more about del.icio.us and how it’s being used in the classroom, interviewing educators who have successfully jumped on the del.icio.us bandwagon. -andy

Filed under : Cool Tools

Responses

Great write up! This is useful for any newbie to these kind of tools, not just educators!

Great explanation, Andy. Now I understand the difference between del.icio.us and the online bookmark collections I used to use when I didn’t have an internet connection at home: tagging (1).

And thanks for the reference to folksonomy: I have been thinking about it - and experimenting with it - for a while without having a word for it.

Question though: couldn’t the folksonomy concept be extended to wikis, for instance? Because in wikis too, users are free to create their own temporary or lasting “surface” regrouping of pages, without having to pre-conceive a hierarchy of directories and subdirectories that structure a traditional site.

best

Claude

(1) it was already possible to share those old online bookmark lists.

Claude wrote:
Question though: couldn’t the folksonomy concept be extended to wikis, for instance? Because in wikis too, users are free to create their own temporary or lasting “surface” regrouping of pages, without having to pre-conceive a hierarchy of directories and subdirectories that structure a traditional site.
In general, yes - it’s common for wikis to have category pages and the like, all of which are user-generated, so the development of these categories are essentially like folksonomies. But they are often restricted. For example, on Wikipedia, they don’t let users create certain types of categories without group consensus. Some of you may recall when I created a Wikipedia “stub” for digital divide activists. I’m almost positive it doesn’t exist now because Wikipedians felt that case needed to be made for digital divide activists to even exist as a category. They did the same thing for video blog stubs. So even though I can go in and create a new category, that doesn’t mean someone else will destroy it. And with del.icio.us, no one but you controls how you tag content.

One Warning: any “notes” you put in your del.icio.us links CAN BE SEEN BY OTHERS… so don’t put your email username and password there.

Very true… I’m not sure why anyone would use del.icio.us to do that, but it’s a good point.

Is del.icio.us any different from Furl It?
Thanks!

jjob80 wrote:

Is del.icio.us any different from Furl It?

Good question - Furl is very similiar. There are a few other competings services like them, but they’re probably the most popular. -andy

Regarding the question about Furl, of which I am a big fan. One thing that sets furl apart from any other online bookmarking site is that it saves not just the url, but the entire website. This is huge, especially for educators. No more worrying about sites going offline or moving…you always have it there. Also, there’s a LOT less porn on furl than delicious, something that educators always need to be concerned about. I’d be interested, Andy, in your commenting on any other features you see that delicious has over furl. If they both have tagging,what makes delicious better?
Thank you.

I made an example about Turkey to illustrate a novel del.icio.us application: each tagged page is accompanied by a question (in the description field) I want students to answer from reading that page.

I use del.icio.us with my classes and I agree that it is a great resourse for teachers. I pick sites that support my curriculum and students can go and explore the sites if they are having trouble with a concept in class.

This is a great post. I agree that this is helpful to anyone learning to use del.icio.us, not just educators.

Educators using del.icio.us has been an interest of mine. I wrote an entry a year ago at
Tagging Bookmarks with del.icio.us for Educators.

Jim wrote:
I’d be interested, Andy, in your commenting on any other features you see that delicious has over furl. If they both have tagging,what makes delicious better? Thank you.

I wouldn’t say that delicious is better - some features of furl are more advanced. But I’m planning to take things one step at a time on the blog - ie, discussing blogging and rss before talking about podcasting; talking about wikis before wikipedia, etc. So I’ll probably dissect furl on a more detailed level in the weeks and months to come. -andy

For anyone interested in doing a local install strictly for their own district/school/classroom (to prevent tag poisoning by spammers, or to have more editorial control over what is bookmarked) I recommend Scuttle. You can see it in action at http://scuttle.org. Check the “about” page - it has a link to the download site. There is also a wiki for documentation.

I am a user of Furl and will continue to use it for sites that I bookmark for my personal and professional use. It keeps more info about a site, and archives the site in case it disappears.

I am switching to del.icio.us for sites that I want to use in presentations or that I want to share with other educators. It’s interface, listing the tags on the right hand side, makes it easier for teachers and students to use.

The tagging and searching also makes it easier for individuals to use similar tags (i.e. agree to use L&C to tag photos about Lewis and Clark) that can be searched on.

I am looking for that nice, easy to use method to tranfser existing Furl sites to del.icio.us - anyone know of a solution?

Hi Craig,

Does Furl let you save your collection in an OPML file? For those of you who don’t know OPML, it’s a technical format for organizing and sharing lists of RSS feeds. (What’s RSS, you’re asking? Read more here.) Many RSS tools will generate an OMPL file so you can share your collection of links with others so they can be imported and exported. I know delicious creates an RSS feed for your bookmarks, and I believe Furl does as well, but an OPML file might do the trick.

While we’re on the subject, raised by Craig, of transferring sites, I’d like to transfer a bunch of sites I have on iKeepBookmarks to Furl. Does anyone have ideas on how to do this in bulk? Andy, do you think your proposed OMPL strategy would work on moving links from IKB to Furl? (IKB has RSS feed capability. I guess I’ll write and ask them)
Thanks.

Theoretically, yes. OPML exists so you can transfer RSS feeds in bulk from one tool to another. Here’s a link to what Wikipedia says about it.

Great, now I have more summer reading! I think I’ll learn a lot! Thanks

Another variation of using del.icio.us by teachers (at least at the secondary level) is to create a department login. I’ve created a del.icio.us login for my math department, science department, etc. The idea being that if all (or many) members of the department all used the department login for del.icio.us, then they would automatically have access to the resources that each of them has found. While the social nature of del.icio.us accomplishes this somewhat automatically via tags, by further “restricting” it to a login they can better tailor links to the specific courses - and curriculum - in our school.

If you try this, I would suggest coming up with a “tagging convention” for your school before you get started (for consistency). For my school, we’ve suggested using course name, topic, teacher name, and then optionally medium (e.g., video) and any additional tags they want. This way teachers and students can link directly to the course, the topic or the teacher (or any combination, like the teacher and course) tags.

I use del.icio.us as well as ma.gnolia. I’ve found the two in combination to be effective bookmarking for me. I must say that ma.gnolia has such an attractive user interface and is so much nicer to look at but I think del.icio.us may be the more functional of the two. I have yet to try Furl or any of the others.

Concerning the question of furl which I am a big fan. One thing that sets furl apart from any other online bookmarking site is that it saves not just the url, but the entire website. This is huge, especially for educators. No more worrying about sites going offline or moving…you always have it there. Also, there’s a LOT less porn on furl than delicious, something that educators always need to be concerned about. I’d be interested, Andy, in your commenting on any other features you see that delicious has over furl. If they both have tagging,what makes delicious better?
Big hand.

Ok, i actually just learning the way to use it, but already i can say you did well, i wanna give a big hand to you.

I think i am ready to move with you.Good idea, excellent prospect, it’s something special, hope to see it grown.

I am a user of Furl and will continue to use it for sites that I bookmark for my personal and professional use. It keeps more info about a site, and archives the site in case it disappears.

I am switching to del.icio.us for sites that I want to use in presentations or that I want to share with other educators. It’s interface, listing the tags on the right hand side, makes it easier for teachers and students to use.

The tagging and searching also makes it easier for individuals to use similar tags (i.e. agree to use L&C to tag photos about Lewis and Clark) that can be searched on.

I am looking for that nice, easy to use method to tranfser existing Furl sites to del.icio.us - anyone know of a solution?

Like many others, ithink application of this technologies is going to be bountiful.Thank you

Del.icio.us is also great for students doing research on the web. With a couple of clicks they can save urls on del.icio.us and then have access to them from any computer.

Eric
The Good Habits Blog

I have been thinking about it - and experimenting with it - for a while without having a word for it.

I suspect that’s thereason general public want to read blog….Internet visitors generally create blogs to declare themselves or their secret views. Blog grant them same matter on the monitor screen what they specifically needed,so as the above stuffs declared it.

I have finally learned. Thanks !

Great Tool!

I just bought a new computer and had to install it on a seperate modem. I wasn’t able to get a strong enough signal due to the other multiple computers running off of the previous modem. I couldn’t share files and didn’t want to have to access my bookmarks on my spouses computer. This tool will allow me to gain access to my bookmarks from my new computer and any other computer from now on.

Thanks! I really appreciate all your hard work to educate others to what is out there in our technology world.

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I have problems with my tag titles. Recently items under shopping, financial and e-mail addresses have disappeared from my headings.They still appear in the place where I originally added them. They have “do not share” in red printed with the item. I did not indicate this. I have also recently added the delicious application to Facebook and it started listing my new tags to my mini-feed.I was concerned about this as I did not remember adding the application and have written to them also. I seem to think all passworded tags have been the ones to disappear from my individual indexed tag names.
I am not sure why this is happening.

Hi,
I hope this old foggie (Age80)can chime into this blog.I enjoy computing very much but us elders have a problem with CRS!(Rembering stuff) If i practice it a few times I get it! I have got as far as signing up for DEL and importing my urs’s, could you give me a step by step to tag these? I have IE6 (I am waiting for the bugs to be removed from 7 before I download it.(I like MS)Thank You.

Andy a good post.

I noticed that you have not bookmarked in delicious for a long time in your learningnow account. Where did the process fall?

It was a smart idea and should have been successful.

A lot of our students (and teachers) find del.icio.us confusing and full of adverts, our teachers use http://www.my-favorite-websites.com/ as its easier to use and has no adverts.

The teacher can login, create a group of favorites, the students dont even have to login they can go directly to the website and see all the links, there is no sharing of logins, or students changing the links to…. “inappropriate” sites.

Nice blog, its great article informative post, thanks for sharing it. Thanks for the information!

hey how you doing! Nice posting

google bookmarks work nice. Great post!
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