By Harry McCracken | Thursday, July 31, 2008 at 6:05 pm
Delicious, the venerable Web-based bookmarking service owned by Yahoo and formerly known as Del.icio.us, launched a new version today. I fully intend to check it out, but right now, I’m still mulling over Matthew Ingram’s post about it: “Delicious 2.0: Who Bookmarks Anymore?”
Matthew uses this Twitter post by Mashable’s Adam Ostrow as a springboard to discuss why he’s finding bookmarking less and less relevant:
I found the whole notion of bookmarking being passé to be not only intriguing but surprisingly cathartic–because I’ve never been much of a bookmarker, and I’ve always felt sort of guilty about it.
How come I’ve never bookmarked? Mostly because it’s always felt like work that didn’t result in adequate payoff. It’s required a few clicks that always seem like a distraction that interferes with whatever I’m doing at the moment. (Pretty much by definition, you bookmark something because it’s valuable; I’m usually so engrossed in the content that I forget to bookmark it.) Bookmarks require folders (or folder variants such as Google Toolbar’s labels); managing folders makes me feel like a librarian tending to a card catalog, and I always seem to end up with multiple folders that duplicate each others’ purpose. Which means that even once I’ve bookmarked something, I have trouble finding it.
Another issue with bookmarks that I’ve never found closure with is that it’s harder to remember to get rid of bookmarks than to create them in the first place. Any time I’ve ever made a concerted effort to bookmark stuff–and God knows, I have–I’ve ended up forgetting to bookmark some sites I go to everyday…and leaving bookmarks related to projects from years ago cluttering up my folders.
For a long time, I had a good excuse to avoid bookmarks: They were tied to a particular browser on a particular machine, and I’ve always been a multiple-browsers-on-multiple-computers kind of browser. In theory, that excuse went away years ago when Web-based bookmarking services started to pop up. (Backflip sticks in my mind as the first one I saw and kind of liked–and it’s still around.)
I’ve tried a bunch of approaches to putting bookmarks on the Web and/or synching them across multiple PCs, but I’ve never found one that made me into a long-term believer. I couldn’t even remember the original Del.icio.us’s name, let along figure out its cryptic interface. I liked Google Browser Sync until it started creating phantom duplicate bookmarks–and if I’d kept with it I would have ended up irritated with Google when they discontinued the service. These days, I use Google Toolbar’s bookmarks–sort of–but still fumble with the fact any browser I use also has its own bookmark system. (I sometimes forget where I’ve bookmarked what.)
When I say that bookmarking is difficult, what I’m really is that other means of finding information are easier. That’s always been true, and it’s only more strikingly so today. I can find nearly anything I need on the Web in Google in ten seconds or so. I’ve always gone back to sites by typing their names into the browser’s address bar, and with the “Awesome Bar” in Firefox 3 and its cousin Flock, it feels like the browser figures out what I’m looking for within my first two or three keystrokes. (Firefox 3 also makes strides in removing some of the hassle of bookmarking, but the Awesome Bar is so good I haven’t felt the need to bookmark anything.)
For years, I thought the fact that I didn’t bookmark much meant that I was secretly a clueless newbie. I assumed that serious Web users were serious bookmarkers, and that my failure to become one was a sign I was disorganized and wasteful of my own time. So I love the notion that bookmarking doesn’t matter much anymore. Whether or not it’s valid.
And now that I’m feeling better about not being a bookmarker, I may even find the courage to explain to you why I’m not that much of an RSS user…