Eating Delicious

I’ve got some major writing deadlines coming up, but in case you haven’t heard, it appears that the social bookmarking site del.icio.us will soon be shut down.  Yahoo has announced that it will layoff the entire team that runs the site, in part (I guess) because it wasn’t generating enough revenue for them.  This will likely lead to a mass scrambling to export del.icio.us bookmarks to one of the many other social bookmarking sites out there on the web.  If you need some assistance with that process (as I will), Lifehacker has a useful blog post explaining how to export your links to another service (right now, I’m leaning toward Diigo).

Although the Guardian blog post cited above is correct in suggesting that the del.icio.us interface wasn’t perfect, I have become pretty dependent upon the site for storing and organizing links for many of my research projects, including my book, a process I’ve continued to use in the preliminary stages of my second book. In fact, I probably should have tipped my cap to the site in the acknowledgements of my book.  And I had become accustomed to sitting down with a cup of coffee (or two) and sifting through my RSS feed (Google Reader) to find blog posts and articles of interest that I would then bookmark on del.icio.us and then write about on my blog.  The process helped me to think through the links, to see patterns, and (in most cases) to compile several responses to a news story before blogging about it myself.  I could then go back to my del.icio.us later to find those carefully organized (unlike pretty much everything else in my office) links and turn that material into a more linear argument.

There are obviously some alternatives here.  One can hope that Yahoo will either sell off del.icio.us or  allow it to go open source, but those choices don’t seem likely, if the Guardian post is correct. And although Yahoo is implying that del.icio.us is not a “strength” of the company, it’s one of the few unique offerings that Yahoo seems to have.  There are plenty of email services out there, many other search engines that are stronger, other ways of accessing information such as movie times, and there are plenty of other websites out there that have equally annoying advertisements.  So I don’t really get this choice.  But it is a reminder that one shouldn’t take even the best online services for granted.

But the closure of del.icio.us, if or when it happens, is a powerful reminder that these web tools that we use to organize our research or social communication are not necessarily permanent.  Although the concept of social bookmarking will certainly continue, it’s important to be aware of how specific tools and services can change or even disappear.

Update: Several articles are now reporting that Yahoo plans to sell, rather than shut down, Delicious.  But their recent actions have me at least mildly concerned about all of the bookmarks I have compiled, so I will still be backing things up with Diigo.

6 Comments »

  1. cbd Said,

    December 17, 2010 @ 4:19 pm

    I hear you. I’ve used Delicious a lot, and have pretty much internalized it. I had a very hard time yesterday not hitting that “to delicious” button in my bookmark bar. I’ve started diddling with my long-dormant Reddit account, and Pinboard too. The latter looks like the best candidate for drop-in Delicious replacement. Caveats: autocompletion for tagging doesn’t seem to be working for me now, and I don’t see anything like tag bundles (I think you mentioned using those on Fb).

    Delicious has denied they’re shutting down; they hint at a sale. So the heat may be off. Still, your point about backup is well taken. That may be what I end up using Pinboard for.

  2. Chuck Said,

    December 17, 2010 @ 5:25 pm

    I think Diigo should be able to do everything I want. It has the social aspects of Delicious, and it appears to be free, at least when it comes to the basics. I have the Diigo toolbar on my Mac now, and I am waiting for Diigo to import my bookmarks (which may take a while).

    If anyone wants to follow me, my Diigo page is http://www.diigo.com/user/chutry

  3. Shaun Huston Said,

    December 18, 2010 @ 7:23 pm

    I switched to Pinboard today despite the possible reprieve for delicious. I hope you follow-up on your use of Diigo. I decided that it was overloaded with features for what I want right now, and for that reason am concerned about it being too buggy as well. I have set up delicious accounts for classes, and Diigo might be the way to go there, but for my immediate needs, I decided that Pinboard is the best alternative.

  4. Chuck Said,

    December 18, 2010 @ 7:25 pm

    I’ll try to keep everyone posted. Still waiting for Diigo to import my bookmarks from Delicious.

  5. Chuck Said,

    December 18, 2010 @ 7:26 pm

    I played with the extra features (sticky notes and such) and found them to be too intrusive for my purposes. I’d rather just bookmark.

  6. Shaun Huston Said,

    December 19, 2010 @ 2:48 pm

    Thanks for the quick updates. Give Pinboard a look. It is pretty much a simplified delicious. I can see how delicious users who make extensive use of the network functions of that service would still want to look elsewhere, but for bookmarking, Pinboard seems perfect. In addition, you can configure your Pinboard account to mirror your delicious bookmarks, which could be a useful safety net for anyone planning to keep using delicious and hoping it stays around.

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