For those unfamiliar, Delicious pre-dated Digg as a social bookmarking system. Digg has since been replaced by Reddit, which socialized about the various links bookmarked and now is the first place to go for “what’s up.” Delicious hovered in the background, never quite reaching the grand scale of Digg or Reddit – but still remained very useful and functional to those that knew about it and understood how its applications differed from other early social sharing out there. If you haven’t looked at it in a few years, take a new look – while some of it has been “tumblerized” it’s actually still a workable system for sharing links with a select few.
The original Delicious became excellent for long term use in the following ways:
- Before ReadItLater and InstaPaper, it was useful for marking those things you wanted to read later. I do consider the new plugins superior, so in this sense it is now obsolete.
- It became a fast, efficient, non-email way to share links with specific people. Mike and I still use it as a shopping tool when we’re researching purchases online, because we can bookmark specific dressers, container bins, etc. to facilitate discussion. It is still highly applicable in shared research for this. Pinterest of course has since made that somewhat obsolete. However, for information that isn’t image driven, it still applies.
- Delicious became my de facto recipe file and remains so. Since I read a lot of vegan/vegetarian blogs (despite not being one) it became an efficient way for me to collect recipes into one easy-to-check and search location. For specific, topical interests on specific pages, it was preferable to using bookmarks in my browser.
It seems, however, that rather than looking for fixing what was broken, the new owners just broke all of it and started over. To me this is more evidence that computer programmers tend to think all computer problems can be fixed through programming alone. I live with one, and I have had a front row seat to that mentality. Google especially has that problem.
I’m of the opinion that many problems that happen in these tech things, however, would be better solved if programmers worked in concert with marketers/end users. This would, of course, require marketers that are also not overly locked into a certain way of thinking about, well, everything. It would have to be someone who is less concerned with sales and recognition and more concerned with pairing the right user with the right end product. This would require a goal-free approach to marketing that would make capitalism as we know it implode.
My complaints about the new delicious are many, but my hope is that most will be resolved, or where I can at least ignore the features I don’t like.
- First, there’s this school of thought that tags are everything. They’re not. Tags are best used as quick labels; the detailed tags that Delicious programmers seem to expect are time-consuming, especially when you just want to quick save something for future reference. We don’t have all day to catalog or interests, especially since delicious is a tool intended to manage the constant high volume information coming at us these days. When Delicious users asked for an improvement to tags, I believe most wanted to be able to delete them, especially since the comma/no comma tagging system caught many of us off guard, and now we all have trailers of tags marked “subjecttag,” rather than “subjecttag” or “subject tag” etc. Expecting LOTS of tags negates the point of them as a quick-efficiency organizing system.
- Second, the search feature is now from Pluto. Actually, it’s from planet Eris. Sometimes your own links might come back to you, other times they won’t.
- Third, the “stacks” system is the exact OPPOSITE of organization. It literally creates a “stack” you have to dig through for your desired link – making delicious the equivalent of writing links down on index cards and piling them on the floor. The entire point of digitization is to get away from that.
- Lastly, it appears that Delicious is trying to emulate Pinterest and/or Tumblr. Let Pinterest be Pinterest, let Facebook be Facebook. The point of social systems online is to give them a function unique from the other social sites and tools available. In the case of Delicious, it’s exactly halfway between social networking and productivity, which is exactly where it belongs.
I’m still hopeful that the Delicious programmers are on it, and not so mesmerized by the dogma of web 2.0 that they’ll make it better instead of worse.
NOTE: this was drafted in January of 2012. As of 2013, Delicious is still around – and I have seen no significant changes. You still can’t change your username, you still have to use the stacks system and searching is still user unfriendly because it’s trying to force external social networking instead of allowing users to choose their internal systems – something that the site is much more useful at offering.