My library is doing a series of short, lunch-time technology exploration sessions to introduce staff to some of the technologies that are out there, be they Web 2.0 or not. We've covered Firefox extensions, Google Docs, Wiki's, and Social Bookmarking. Actually, I and a co-worker did the Social Bookmarking session today.
For as familiar as most computer users are with bookmarks/favorites, many have never ventured out to the social bookmarking arena. Quite honestly, many wonder why they should. Because I have a work pc and a home pc and have had one blow-up, I started using Yahoo! Bookmarks a couple of years ago. In fact, it expanded to one account for personal links and one for professional. I didn't realize I was participating in social bookmarking for quite some time as Yahoo! feeds your saved bookmarks into a social bookmarking site called Yahoo! My Web. They look a little different, but with the My Web component others can see your saves and tags, like in del.icio.us.
A year or so ago, after reading and hearing oodles about del.icio.us, I decided to check it out. I got to the site and promptly left. What an ugly interface. And, IMHO, somewhat difficult to read. I stuck with Yahoo! My Web. However, in preparation for this session, I again ventured on to del.icio.us and several other social bookmarking sites. While, del.icio.us is still ugly (making me wonder if it's so popular because it was one of the first), it does have a few features I like - your network, subscriptions, and links for you. However, it's not exactly geared for group collaboration, though I'm seeing where libraries are finding work arounds for this. I've found a couple of other sites (I'm sure there are others) that are better for group collaboration and will discuss those here.
Yahoo! My Web is one. In addition to making bookmarks public or private, it provides the ability to share only with contacts (of which you can create different levels), making it easy to collaborate with different groups.
Another is Ma.gnolia. In addition to saving, tagging, and sharing sites, this site offers a few unique features. One is a built-in mail system. Another is the ability to create Groups. Groups can be public (as in UTA Library STEW) where all members can add links; moderated, where the group is public but only designated members can add links; or private. There is also a discussion feature, but I've not tried that one out yet.
Last, but not least, is Jumptags. Jumptags does not offer networks or contacts, but it does offer something called Collections. Collections are created by a member, who can keep the collection Private or make it Public. With either type, there is the ability to invite others to be Contributors to the collection. You can even let invited Contributors invite others to the Collection. Coming soon will be the ability to Subscribe to a Collection.
Yahoo! My Web, Ma.gnolia, and Jumptags all offer much better interfaces. They offer bulk editing, the option to import your del.icio.us bookmarks in addition to importing bookmarks from your browser, and Yahoo! My Web and Ma.gnolia also offer the ability to send a site to someone, much like tagging a site for:somone in del.icio.us.
Just for the record, they all also offer buttons or toolbars for the browser which make tagging sites easy. I will say, there were a couple of problems. One was with Ma.gnolia. It seems that creating an account here is more difficult than it should be and could be a turn off for many. And, trying to install the Jumptags toolbar on IE turned out to be something I couldn't pull off, at least at work. It installed beautifully on Firefox, though.
If you scroll down the left hand side bar you will find My Del.icio.us link roll and My Jumptags. Both are the result of my preparing for today's session. Obviously, I probably won't keep four of these things going, but I see the strengths of each.
If your curious, I'm kewllib2 on all these sites.
Update 5/14/09 - Yahoo! has closed Yahoo! My Web. Sad. However, there bookmarking feature is still available - just no ability to share.