Introduced to del.icio.us
I have been using Delicious since my PGDE year in 2006, when I was introduced to it by David Muir during a lecture at Jordanhill (the same lecture, incidentally, where I first heard the “It’s not about the tech, it’s about the teAch” quote). Back then it was known as del.icio.us which proved difficult to remember sometimes, but has since come to be known (and live at) the somewhat easier delicious.com. I have been introduced to many, many things since then – some of them have stuck, some of them have vanished but Delicious endures, despite some (often hamfisted) rebrands, redesigns and relaunches. But why? Well quite simply, it does what it does simply, quickly, easily and well.
But what does it do?
You know that thing where you say “Oh yeah, I found a great website about that and saved it in my bookmarks….but that’s on my computer at home…” so then you spend 10 minutes looking for the site and trying to remember what it was called before giving up entirely, turning the computer off and reading a newspaper instead? And then you sit simmering, thinking “If only I could get to my favourites on every computer….” Well that’s where Delicious grew from, and that was its basic functionality. Find website, bookmark website on Delicious, access bookmark from any internet-access computer (yes, back then there were some computers that weren’t!!!). It was liberating, like being able to carry your computer about in the palm of your hand, just before you could carry…. well, you get the point…..
That’s a lot of links
Let’s call just being able to access your bookmarks from anywhere Phase 1. After a while, same as with the bookmarks on your computer, it gets to the point where there are so many that searching through the bookmarks becomes almost as much of a pain as searching on the internet itself. That’s when you need Phase 2. Delicious was the first place I saw Tags being used, and I was pretty impressed. Providing you took the time to tag a link when you saved it, it became pretty easy to find by searching the tags. What was that money website I saved with the great SMART Board game? Tags – money, smartboard, game and have a look through the handful of links you have left. Brilliant.
These are mine, I tell you, mine!!!!
Another thing I noticed about Delicious was that unlike too many educators in the world who are hoarders rather than sharers, everybody using it seemed really happy to share. They would say things like “Oh yeah, if you look on my delicious under numeracy you’ll find….” or “Check out the resources I have tagged ‘amazing'” and if you did, you could see all the goodies that they had found. Meaning you didn’t have to find them yourself. Another idea I came up with at this time was having class/school delicious accounts. These could then be tagged with teacher name, class name, subject name, topic name or even more specificaly with things like pupil initials or even ‘p7homework’. This meant that pupils and parents could have access to the most up-to-date and current set of links available which were searchable using tags. Imagine clicking a link in an email and then adding tags p7, maths, hw, JS to find the sites James Smith in p7 has to investigate for his maths homework. And if you find a new, better link in the meantime, just bookmark it, tag it and the same link he already has wil allow him to find it (unlike when you printed out that pageful of links, sent it home and found a killer website the next day….)
Web 2.0 and beyond
Of course, that all seems so old-fashioned now. But back then, even just four or five years ago, it was cutting edge. And then the social media revolution came along. Quietly at first and with little urgency, but with the promise of total devastation that the small pebbles that start an avalanche carry. First of all the bookmarklet allowed you to save a link with the press of a virtual button. Plus you were able to import favourites from your computer(s?) to Delicious.As Twitter and Facebook burgeoned, Delicious adapted too. Now if there was someone you knew using delicious, you could ‘follow’ their stream of links (allowing you to steal the good ones for yourself!). People invented ways to link their Delicious, Twitter and Facebook accounts for ease of use. I signed up to a service called packratius which harvested any tweet in my stream which had a weblink in itand tagged it ‘via: packratius’ as well as any other hashtag in the tweet. Sounded like a great idea, turned out not to be – my delicious was soon overrun with packratius tagged links, so I changed the settings to opt-in rather than opt-out saving, meaning that any tweet I favourited with a link the link would be autosaved, or any tweet I tweeted with the #pr tag would be saved too. And after some pressure from users, the option to export your links was added too.
Nowadays Delicious doesn’t need packratius or similar to link to a Twitter account – it has the functionality built in. If you go to set up a Delicious account, you can use your Twitter account or your Facebook account as well as the traditional “sign up by email” option. Just remember to check those settings – are you going to be an opt-in saver or an opt-out saver? Delicious themselves have a bit of a how-to guide on this, and I will be trying to shoot a screencast to show these features over the weekend to add to this blog.