I am not a big bookmark fan.  Ever since Google came along, I have felt
my need to bookmark drop to the point that my bookmark folder is close to empty. 
I do use the toolbar of my browser, though, and the Litmus test to decide if a
site is toolbar-worthy or not is:  am I going to click this link several
times a day?

If the answer is "yes", then I drag the link to my toolbar, otherwise, the
site falls into oblivion and I rely on my memory and Google to be able to return
there if I ever decide to one day.

With that in mind, I have been reading about the growing enthusiasm for
delicious with quite a lot of skepticism. 
The funky URL notwithstanding, I saw very little interest in a centralized
bookmark manager since Google is already working quite well for me. 

Nevertheless, I gave delicious a try and I have to admit that I found
the implementation pretty neat and very intuitive.  It’s a good showcase
for the power and simplicity of REST but it’s also well thought out and adding a
bookmark to your delicious page requires hardly a couple of clicks more
than bookmarking the page in your browser. 

Some of the nice touches
include:

  • Bookmarks can be added in a pop-up window.
  • The bookmark form is pre-filled with the information read from the
    current page, so adding the bookmark is typically just a matter of clicking
    on "Okay", unless you want to add an extra description or a set of tags.
  • Textual tags allow you to categorize your new entry quickly.
  • When you are done, you are taken back to the page you just bookmarked in
    case you are not using the pop-up.

delicious also provides an RSS feed for your own entries (to give to
friends) as well as another RSS feed for all the entries posted on the site. 
It will also tell you how many other people have bookmarked a certain entry
(both quantitatively and with a color code), which gives you an instant
measurement on the freshness and the popularity of your latest finding (hint: 
bookmark your own Web site and see if other people like you :-) ).

In short, delicious is a model in usability.

However, no matter how positive this first contact was, I was left with a
clear sense of  "It’s not for me".

Until I realized something.

Web sites can be sorted by order of interest to me:  sites that I…

  1. Never hear of.
  2. Hear of but don’t bother going to.
  3. Read and then forget right away.
  4. Read and want to save for possible future reference.
  5. Read and want to save for certain future reference.
  6. Read and want to save and reread several times a day.

Obviously, categories 1, 2 and 3 are quite uninteresting, but I thought I’d
mention them for completeness.

Category 4 is typically addressed by your browser "Bookmark" menu.

Category 5 can be addressed by either the "bookmark" menu or the browser
toolbar.

And finally, sites that belong to category 6 are clearly toolbar material.

From this crude break down, it looks like delicious is a good fit for
category 4 (and possibly 5).  But why is it a win over the "Bookmark" menu
of your browser?

The first obvious answer that comes to mind is its distributed aspect. 
I bet many of you are surfing the Internet from various places and different
browsers, probably all of them with a different set of bookmarks.

But I thought of a few more subtle reasons:

  • Timestamps.  Maybe in a few years, I will have the curiosity to go
    through my old webroll (you read that term here first) and see what I was
    reading back then, although in all likeliness, many of these links will have
    stopped working by then.
     
  • When I was still using bookmarks and I happened to read an interesting
    site, I remember being hesitant adding that site to my Bookmarks folder. 
    I didn’t want to make it too crowded and it was also sometimes hard to
    decide whether it was as important as some other Web sites I had in there. 
    In short, I was trying to limit my bookmark folder to contain only sites
    satisfying a certain criterion, but I was never really able to phrase this
    criterion in a way that would make it obvious to me what belonged there and
    what didn’t.

    As I start to use delicious more, I realize that I no longer have
    this hesitation and I happily bookmark away without thinking too much about
    it.
     

  • Finally, there is the public aspect of delicious, akin to some
    sort of e-voyeurism.  What better way to see what people bookmark than
    randomly checking out the delicious front page a few times a day?

Let’s see how the experiment goes and if I am still maintaining my webroll in
a month from now, but until then, I am promoting the delicious front page
to category 1 in an attempt to encourage its use. 

Welcome to my toolbar.