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Del.icio.us Web

I still remember how I was blown away when I checked out DEC’s AltaVista search engine for the first time almost 10 years ago. Up to that point bookmarks were the most important navigation instrument and people used to exchange new discoveries by email: the cooler your friends the cooler your bookmarks. For a while you could even buy real, physical paper books listing bookmarks. Then, when AltaVista search started to suck, Google’s “I feel lucky” search jumped in. Google’s PageRanking proved to be so good that I didn’t really need bookmarks anymore. I just needed to remember a good search term to retrieve a site.

Or, at least I thought so until I discovered del.icio.us.

On the surface it is an unassuming looking and free service that allows one to post web bookmarks. Each registered user has his/her own page which works like a bookmark blog (for example, del.icio.us/carlosmalt). Each bookmark can have one or more tags, each tag being one word. Tags are a big deal since booksmarks can be viewed by tags (or combination of tags) across all users. For instance del.icio.us/tag/outliners provides all bookmarks people submitted and tagged “outliners”. Some think that these tags might be the long-sought-after way to content classification of the web that eventually would provide the metadata soup for the Semantic Web. If a particular user stands out as providing particular useful bookmarks, one can then look at the tags and bookmarks of that user. That way I can discover experts for a particular topic and maybe even adopt some of the tagging words of those experts to tag my own bookmarks. Reusing tagging words of people that I consider experts not only makes those tagging words more popular but also aligns my way of tagging the Web more closely to theirs. In fact, I can think of a TagRank algorithm that similar to the PageRank algorithm puts weights on tags depending on the total weight of users that are using them and puts weights on users depending on the total weight of their tags. Anyhow, over the past few days I suddenly found myself exploring topics of interest on del.icio.us much more successfully than I ever managed on Google! I had heard about del.icio.us over half a year ago but remember not being too impressed. No surprise since this is another example of a web site that becomes more useful as more users submit their bookmarks. I think now del.icio.us has achieved or is very close to achieving critical mass. People have written articles and a number of useful tools for del.icio.us.

See you at del.icio.us/carlosmalt/del.icio.us! (Ah, almost forgot — you can subscribe via RSS to every del.icio.us view).

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