Perry Timms takes a look at some of the bookmarking tools he is using in his practice
Just Googling ‘bookmarking tools’ returns 12.8 million results, so a lot’s being said on the matter, there are many platforms already1 and a lot of countdowns giving you the best, simplest or smartest tools you can use. Thus, while I am going to recommend a couple of them, I’d first like to ask you to think about a couple of questions:
- Is bookmarking still relevant? In the fast and furious online development trend, will today’s bookmarks still matter tomorrow? Or will they be outdated and simply become cleverly organised lists that nobody bothers to check?
- When you’re searching for an answer, do you first go and search your already bookmarked pages, or do you simply turn on a search engine on your browser and start a new discovery path?
With those questions in mind, there is still an active community of learning professionals diligently using bookmarking tools. So whether you’re new to this idea or a seasoned bookmarker, I’d like to go through a little of the bookmarking journey as I understand it.
Why invent bookmarking?
Bookmarking stems from the need to remember interesting places visited on the web, for reading later or for future reference. The growth of content on the internet continues to evolve past our own capacity to memorise links, so the concept helped us create a web ‘memory lane’.
What are its key functions today?
It has two purposes as a device for social sharing and a learning tool. We no longer use it just to remember information, because that information easily becomes obsolete. We do use it for future references or for keeping track of the evolution around a certain subject. We no longer live in a knowledge era, because information is out there available for us all. Now we live in a social era where sharing is power, so bookmarking helps us give back and share information within the broad virtual community.
How can we make it smart?
The first question that might come to mind is “Why not just use browser bookmarks?” First answer would be that they are difficult to manage. But probably the most important aspect is the single location access, which is not consistent with the fast moving pace of our lives today.
This is why cloud based bookmarking solutions were invented – for us to be able to access them any time from any device. Some internet browsers have adapted and now provide a synchronising function, which gives you access to them on any computer provided you sign into the browser, but they are still a list that can become difficult to manage, search and has no ‘share’ option.
The second question is “Should I be using specialised tools or simply using social networks?
I have separate pages for my areas of interest and when I see an interesting page I just share it in the network on the page I created for that topic; this serves a triple role: firstly it bookmarks the page, secondly it is shared and thirdly feedback is received from the community. So regardless of the platform – Twitter or Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn and so on – sharing links on your page also gives you the bookmarking advantage without having to log in into another platform.
The advantage of using a specialised tool is having all your links in one place, and by simply tagging them you can later search for the relevant info without roaming around several platforms.
The third question is “When choosing to uses specialised tools should you use only one tool for all, or differentiate between the type of information you want to bookmark, for example images versus articles?”
The internet is full of reviews so I will link a few below and try to give you a more personal input through the article: as an freelancer I use Delicious to gather links around specific tags and have just discovered Diigo, which is very cool and lets you save a screenshot with the link, easy as one click. I use Chrome bookmarks a lot but less for articles and quick access for cloud applications such as Asana for Project Management and Haiku Deck for presentations.
Pinterest as an image bookmarking site is also great for creating visual boards around certain topics, which you can refer back to and share.
So what characteristics do the best bookmarking tools have in common? They might include some or all of the following:
- Saving links to the web pages the user wants to remember and/or share
- The bookmarks can be public or private, shared only with specified people or groups
- Bookmarks can be managed through categories/folders and/or tags, and most platforms suggest using personalised tags, instead of general folders/categories
- Bookmarks can be filtered according to a chosen tag, some include information about the number of users who have bookmarked the same item, and also suggest similar tags from other users’ Public bookmarks
- One click save
- Tag, share, portable
- Allow access to the wisdom of crowds.
My top three bookmarking sites
This is one of the most well-known bookmarking tools available and has been in use since 2003, delicious has become the standard by which other social bookmarking websites are measured, having probably the largest community.
It is a free and simple tool that comes in website form, as a browser extension (you can also set a keyboard shortcut to use to save bookmarks), Android and iOS app. You simply save a link to the content in question, and you can go back to it at any time. It has a strong community and a rich layer of content with a plain less-is-more and easy-to-use interface. You can save your bookmarks and search through them using keywords, you can search through popular and newly-added websites added by a large community of users and add friends and browse through their bookmarks.
It has one downside in that the standard bookmarking button takes you away from the website and then brings you back.
Diigo is more than a bookmarking tool, it allows users to highlight portions of a webpage, or to add a virtual ‘sticky note’ on the website. It also offers users the opportunity to save a screenshot of the webpage and to create lists of their bookmarks around a topic. Users can join groups created around a field or topic, and the group can be used to discover new bookmarks of relevance.
There are specific tools for research and learning and you can find out more on the following links:
- Using Diigo in classroom http://bit.ly/1Lc3TIW
- Using Diigo for Intentional Learning http://bit.ly/1A5h9vh
- Power of Diigo for building a PLN http://bit.ly/1MwKgwz
- Diigo in Education video http://bit.ly/1AEnjEH
- Save, Share, and Teach with Diigo http://bit.ly/1DpIWJi
Evernote is a complex tool, where you can save, categorise, tag, share and search links through their Web Clipper. It is easy to use and free. Evernote IS my augmented memory. I use it to take notes on my phone which syncs to the cloud and so all my devices and browsers can access that information. Web clipped articles create a virtual handout space for workshops and learning sessions. Evernote works really well with a social media recipe tool like If This Then That (www.ifttt.com). For example any ‘starred’ (favourited) gmails I created are copied to my Evernote account in case I need to locate attachments on long-since deleted emails.
This is a really strong tool in the box and well worth considering.
Have fun and remember to share your thoughts with the social web as your followers will also have experimented and may have some great insight to share with you.