Flavour of the month

Keep track of the sites you've visited and find out which ones are worth taking a look at, with delicious - a social bookmarking tool that's as tasty as it sounds.

The Internet is a disorganised place, and sorting and classifying this amount of information is no easy task. Even using bookmarks can become unmanageable once you've got more than a couple of dozen in your folder.

If you want to try a new approach to organising your personal network of sites, there's a "social bookmarking" tool called Delicious that's worth exploring - see FIGURE 1. Located at the annoyingly smug address http://del.icio.us, Delicious does for bookmarks what Friendster does for social networks and Flickr for photo sharing.

Rather than store your book­marks on your own PC, you keep them on the Delicious site, where they're accessible not only by you, but by the whole Web. The clever bit that marks Delicious out as more than just a flat list of links is tagging. When you add a link, you can classify it by specifying tags that relate to the site - see FIGURE 2.

So, for example, if you book­marked www.pcworld.idg.com.au (and why wouldn't you?) you might add the tags PC, computer, magazine, news and reviews. Once you've added and tagged a few sites you can see who shares your bookmarks, what tags they've added and other places they've visited, as shown in FIGURE 3.

By dividing up the Internet into little chunks in this way, you can find your way around much easier.

Delicious is an example of what's known as "folksonomy" - categorising items using freely chosen keywords. The process only works if enough users contribute, since people will allocate different keywords to things. But with enough users, there should be sufficient correlation between tags to create a recognisable structure.

What's hot?

The site also gives a snapshot of the hot topics of the time. Click on the popular page (http://del.icio.us/popular - see FIGURE 4) and you'll be presented with a list of sites that have been recently added or tagged by users. The page provides a quick overview of what people all over the world find interesting at a particular time.

One of the keys to the success of Delicious is its ease of use. Once you've signed up for an account, you can access your bookmarks simply by going to http://del.icio.us/yourusername - replacing "yourusername" with the name of the account you set up. There's no need to remember long Web addresses.

Adding sites to your Delicious account is also painless as a result of its use of what it terms bookmarklets. After you've created an account, you're given a link to bookmark in your browser called "post to del.icio.us" - see FIGURE 5. Simply right-click the link and choose Add to Favorites - if you're using the latest version of Internet Explorer, you'll probably be presented with a security warning, which you can safely ignore. The link is a small snippet of Javascript code that sends the address and title of the page you're currently reading to Delicious.

While it seems complicated, it's very simple to use. Just find a page you're interested in, click the "post to del.icio.us" bookmark in your browser and you'll be redirected to the "add link" page on Delicious. The address and description will already be filled in for you, so you just need to add tags and click Save - then you'll be taken back to where you were.

When you want to access the site at a later date, just go to your Delicious bookmarks page and it'll be there, neatly tagged and classified and ready to use.

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Will Head

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