Bookmarking doesn’t need to be limited to tracking websites for yourself. You can track virtually any kind of document and share it with almost anyone.
Keeping Your Websites In Order
Would you like to have an almost limitless ability to keep track of websites? It’s out there, waiting to be tapped. Social bookmarking sites excel at maintaining an online grouping of websites for many purposes (e.g. making lists of recipes, project plans, how-to lists, resource sites, etc.). You can use tags and comments to help classify and retrieve websites when needed. Electronic bookmarking functions have been used by academics and other professionals for years as a means of sharing information and collaborating on projects.
I’m going to assume that you already know the basic functions of social bookmarking, like creating tags and folders, adding comments, and so on. However, have you ever thought more deeply about how you can use social bookmarking? Have you ever thought “out of the box” for ways to use social bookmarking more creatively?
Organizing All Kinds of Files
Let’s think about websites for a moment. They may be flashy, colorful, and full of interactive content, but they have one thing in common with your birthday photos, your resume, and your audio files: they are documents. A web page is a document that utilizes standard codes and commands to link different types of content together. However, the web page itself is just another file stored on a server, just like spreadsheets, word processing files, audio files, and graphics files. The URL (Universal Resource Location) associated with the web page makes it easy to locate across the Internet and bookmarking systems look for URLs.
Therefore, if you can attach an URL to a document, then you could use social bookmarking to organize any kind of document. This change of thinking can provide almost limitless opportunities for information management.
All For One or All For All?
We know that bookmarks are very useful for the individual. The additional value of social bookmarking lies in its ability to share information with other people. Web technology can make bookmarks available to anyone using the World Wide Web. Accordingly, I’m going to present you with two categories to consider: bookmarks for your own use; and bookmarks to share with other people. You may find that some of these ideas can be used both for yourself and for sharing information, but I’ll let you be the judge of that! I’m also going to add a third category at the end for your consideration.
Social Bookmarking For Yourself
- You can use bookmarks to collect websites to create a calendar of upcoming events. Many public events, either virtual or in the “real” world, have a website or online resource to provide key information about the events. You can create tags by type of event, by the date/month/year, or by other criteria. You can set these bookmarks up in advance as a planning tool.
- Use bookmarks as your own “people” database: I discovered this technique being used by an experienced Digg user who wanted to track information about other Digg users. He bookmarked user profile pages for all Digg users who he wanted to track; which gave him biographical and contact information. Then he created tags to classify each Digg user. The tags included descriptions of their home country; their interests, and other pertinent information. This gave him a powerful database of contacts that he could tap into when trying to select stories that he thought these people would enjoy. You can take this concept much, much further by tracking profile information for multiple websites, including social websites, blogs, on-line articles, news stories… anything that you think is important. Contact management is more important today in the virtual world than ever before. Bookmarks allow flexible information management without the limitations of some applications.
- Maintain an on-line folder of research materials and reference sites: any kind of writer can take advantage of bookmarking. Bookmarking’s power just continues to increase with every new website, article, or document that’s posted on the World Wide Web. In fact, virtually any content creator can use this method to track valuable information.
- Create a file indexing system (images, audio, video) for items that are online: remember that you can use bookmarks to track any document with an associated URL. You can organize audio, video, graphics, written documents: any kind of file on the Web can be classified and stored using social bookmarking.
- Use social bookmarking sites to determine the popularity of a website or link. Many social bookmarking applications will allow you to see how many other users have bookmarked a website. For example, if you search through bookmarks on the term “laying tile”, you might find dozens or hundreds of bookmarks that use that tag. If you see that certain bookmarks have been saved by many users, pay attention. This might be a good indication that the material in the bookmark is worth checking out.
- Create a public, on-line portfolio – content creators are always looking for an audience for their material. You can use bookmarks to create a tagged index of your on-line creative work. Social bookmarking sites let you share these groupings of your content with other people. Who knows, you might discover new fans or potential content buyers by publicizing your on-line portfolio!
- Use bookmarks to make new contacts: social bookmarking sites can show you the profile IDs of the people who created the bookmarks. Sometimes these profiles provide contact information. If a person has bookmarked a lot of useful resources on a topic, you might want to try to contact them for further information. You might discover valuable new colleagues by checking out bookmarking sites.
- Develop an on-line rating system – bookmarks can be an on-line supplement to your blog or website. Some social bookmarking applications allow you to rate the value of websites, including your opinions (e.g. movie ratings). You can develop a reputation as a subject matter expert or critic by making your ratings public!
- Specialize your use of social bookmarking applications: many of the tips in this article hinge upon the powerful ability of bookmarks to organize documents by multiple criteria within a single application. However, you have the option of using multiple bookmarking applications. Some websites, like del.icio.us, are great for sharing bookmarks because they have a large number of users (think many potential new contact). Other sites, like ma.gnolia, have added social features that make it easier for users to share ideas. Still other sites, like Netvouz, may have more powerful tagging and search capabilities that meet your personal information retrieval needs. You may find that one application meets all of your needs. However, depending on how you want to use bookmarks, you may want to consider using more than one application. Some applications allow you to import bookmarks from other applications, which can save you a lot of time.
Share Your Information With Other People
The Ninth Notable Use
Tag, You’re It!
I hope these nine ideas will help you to organize your information more efficiently and effectively. Just remember that these are only a few suggestions. There are many, many different ways to use bookmarks to make your life easier. When you’re confronted with an unusual information management challenge, remember to step “outside of the box” and think in very general terms about your information management needs. With a little thought and creativity, you’ll probably find good ways to organize your information that will astound both you and your friends!