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Six Selfish Reasons to Use Social Bookmarking

Social bookmarking is an alternative to saving bookmarks in a web browser such as Internet Explorer or Firefox. Social bookmarks are saved to a website instead.  The intention of social bookmarking is to make your bookmark list public, encourage you to share it, and help you discover other web users with similar interests. However, even if none of that sounds appealing to you, there are still plenty of good reasons to switch to social bookmarking.

1.       Access your bookmarks from any computer.

When you switch to social bookmarking, you will be able to access your bookmarks from any computer with Internet access.  Your bookmarks are no longer tied to the computer you were using when you saved them. If you save a bookmark in your office and would like to access it later from the reference desk or from home, no problem! It’s there on your personal bookmarks page.

2.       Keep your bookmarks private.

Most social bookmarking services give you the option to keep some or all of your bookmarks private, visible only to you.

3.       Improve retrievability.

When you save bookmarks in a browser, you have limited options for keeping them organized. Social bookmarking sites allow you to add tags, descriptions, notes, and sometimes ratings for the pages you save. All of this extra metadata improves your chances of being able to retrieve a bookmark when you need it. Here is a nice introduction to tagging.

4.       Create a centralized launch point for presentations involving lots of web links.

When you are planning a presentation that involves live demonstrations of web resources, use a social bookmarking service to tag those resources with the presentation title or date. Just before the presentation, access your bookmarks online and go to a page listing only the sites with the presentation tag. Keep that page open and use it as a jumping off point for smooth transitions between resources.

5.       Access saved copies of pages that are no longer online.

Some social bookmarking services (Furl and Ma.gnolia, for example) automatically save copies of the pages you bookmark. This means you will still be able to access the content even if the original page moves or is taken offline. (Disclaimer: please remember that currency is an important factor in evaluating health information.)

6.       Generate a webliography.

If you find yourself needing to incorporate web links into a bibliography or printable resource list, Furl can help. Bookmarks stored in Furl can be exported in MLA, APA, Chicago, or CBE formats or sent to a citation manager such as EndNote or RefWorks.

There are dozens of social bookmarking sites out there. If you are just getting started, try one of these:

Delicious – has the largest community of users
Furl – one of the first social bookmarking sites; has some nice features (5 and 6 above)
Ma.gnolia – known for its attractive design

Do you already have a lot of bookmarks stored in your web browser? Delicious automatically detects your browser bookmarks, making it easy to copy them over to a delicious account. Here are instructions for copying your browser bookmarks into Ma.gnolia and Furl (you’ll need to sign in to see these pages).

Next week, more about the social reasons to use social bookmarking.

6 Responses to “Six Selfish Reasons to Use Social Bookmarking”

  1. Peggy Baldwin Says:

    I started using Delicious after the MLS Web 2.0 class earlier this year. I find myself putting more and more into it and less and less into my computer favorites list. It is a lot easier to locate a web site and I can follow other people who have added the same links to see what else there might be out there.

  2. Christina Seeger Says:

    I switched from Delicious to Diigo this year — there are a lot of nice highlighting and annotation features that make it more useful to me. It’s worth checking out.

  3. Matt Brown Says:

    I might also recommend checking out Has all the usual social bookmarking features plus you can store other types of information. Files, photos, notes, etc.

  4. Hope Leman Says:

    “Access saved copies of pages that are no longer online.” That’s a good thing to have pointed out–I had not thought of that. And all of the comments on this post are very useful ones.

  5. Kathy Fatkin Says:

    I have been using Delicious but I had not imported all my bookmarks from my favorites to it. Thanks for making it easy to do that. Now everything is in one place! Kathy

  6. Alison Aldrich Says:

    Thanks for the great comments, everyone. There are a LOT of social bookmarking services out there. Fortunately it’s not difficult to move your bookmarks from service to service in a batch. That way you can experiment to see what works best for you without losing your links.