Social media & networking, Software & web applications

What is del.icio.us?

This post is the first in a series: Part 2: What makes del.icio.us a "social" bookmarking tool?, Part 3: What is del.icio.us?.

One of the tools I mention often in my presentations is del.icio.us – a social bookmarking tool. I thought that it might be worth providing an overview of del.icio.us, what it does and why I think it’s useful, for those folks that may be unfamiliar with the tool.

del.icio.us is a free service from Yahoo! that makes it easy to save your bookmarks online. Once in del.icio.us, you can access them from any computer that is connected to the web. If you work on multiple computers (say, one at work and one at home), this can be very helpful. (Don’t worry if you can’t work out that funky address, delicious.com will get you there just fine.)

Once you’ve created an account on the site, there are a couple of ways to bookmark a site. Perhaps the simplest way to get started is to use what’s called a "bookmarklet" – which is a special link that you drag to your browser’s bookmark toolbar – to bookmark a site with one click (more information on del.icio.us’ bookmarklets can be found on this help page).

Alternatively, if you are using the Firefox web browser, you can use one of two extensions to integrate del.icio.us into the browser – one from Yahoo! that replaces Firefox’s bookmarking system with del.icio.us integration, another that extends (rather than replaces) Firefox’s standard bookmarks facility.

When you add a site to del.icio.us you can label the bookmark with a number of "tags". Tags, if you’re not familiar with them, are short text descriptions (similar to keywords) that you can use to categorise your links with. Rather than a fixed and formal set of categories, you can tag a link with as many free-form tags as you like – just use as many tags to describe the link as required.

Tags in delicious are single words separated by spaces. So if you wanted to tag something with multiple words, say "social media", you would tag it "socialmedia".

As you add more links, you will naturally get more and more tags. del.icio.us allows you to then view all of your links by tag, or search them. This makes it easier to find tags in the future – rather than having to remember exactly where you saved the link (in one specific folder for example), you can look through any number of relevant tags, or use the search function.