Thursday, July 07, 2005

Web Page Bookmarking To The Next Level

If you use the internet as much as I do, poking around on blogs & finding all kinds of cool sites, you probably have a pretty large collection of bookmarks saved in your web browser. The web is so large that you may never find those sites again if you don't save them somehow. Browser based bookmarking systems work for a while, but once you get a few hundred links in there, unless you are very organized you may as well just try to find it online again. Well I may just have a better solution. is what's called a Social Bookmarking System and it's probably the best one out there at the moment. It basically lets you store all your web page bookmarks online so you can get to them wherever you are. The Social part comes in because you can also check other peoples bookmarks and use it as somewhat of a search engine. Only in this one the results will be sites submitted by other users which probably won't be spam, worthless crap, or a bunch of porn. You can also find out who else is bookmarking the same sites as you, and search through their bookmarks for anything similar.

The big feature that will save you from all of your organization woes is the bookmark tagging system. Rather than a placing bookmarks in a folder hierarchy system used in web browsers, a tag is like a keyword that you assign to the web page which you use & combine to find your bookmarks. So if I was bookmarking this blog for instance I would give it tags according to its content which may be; blog, friend, news, technology, gadget, art, music, dj, book, since its a blog, you're probably my friend, and those are roughly the topics that I will be blogging about. Now if you want to find my blog later, you would go to your page and maybe click on blog which would bring up all your pages that you have tagged with blog. If you have a whole bunch you could add to that music which would narrow it down to web sites that you have tagged with both blog & music. Or you could instead add the friend tag which will then show you all of your friends' blogs. Now that is a whole lot easier than creating complex folder hierarchies to put your links in, and to get the same effect you would have to create multiple copies of the same link in many different folders in order to find it as easily. You can also do tag searches globally, so you can see all the web pages that other users have tagged with Blog & Music. There are a series of web pages that have started using linking systems for other applications such as Flickr free photo hosting/search and Technorati which is a blog post search engine.

Now if you use Mozilla Firefox (which you very much should be) as your web browser there are a few other really great features you can take advantage of. All of your pages are Firefox Live Bookmark (RSS) enabled. This will let you still use your browsers bookmark feature along with using your bookmarks. For instance, if you want to have a folder with all of your blogs in your browser bookmarks you would go to your page and click on your Blog tag which will take you to a page listing all of your blogs. Then you would click the little orange Live Bookmark icon on the bottom right of your browser window and subscribe to that page. Then when you open your bookmarks menu on your browser there will be a Blogs section which will contain all of your pages you have tagged with blog and will automatically update with any new or deleted entries that you make through your page. Pretty cool huh? It doesn't end there.

Since is web based & open source anyone who wants to can make programs or scripts that will add to the systems functionality is free to do so. In fact Here Is A Page full of tools and new ones are being added pretty often. One that I recommend using to get started is loader which will take your existing Firefox bookmarks and load them into and allow you to add tags to them (but not descriptions, but you can do that later if you want). Another good one is direc.tor which is a better looking interface for tag searching on your remember for that one that you have to go to your main page before you open the direc.tor link or else it wont find your bookmarks. Foxylicious is a Firefox extension that loads all of your bookmarks into your Firefox bookmarks (all in one folder) so you can use the bookmark search in the Firefox bookmarks sidepane to search your bookmarks by name (not tag).

The Us.ef.ul guide for newbies is also a good resource for someone who is just starting to use this.

So to get started all you need to do is go to the home page I posted above and sign up. The to get started you will need to make a couple real Bookmarks in your web browser. The first will be to your page which will be which you or anyone else can access from anywhere. You will also need to make a bookmark that will post your bookmarks to your account. There are a few different ways to post (which are explained on that tools page & the sign up page) but I always use Experimental Post. What you need to do is Right Click & Bookmark This Link, then edit the link to substitute your account name where it says YOURACCOUNTNAME (right click the bookmark in your browser & click "properties"). I like the experimental one because it gives you a list of all of your tags, as well as recommended tags from your list and often used tags from other people who bookmarked that page. It will also predict the tag that you are typing, so if the right one is highlighted you just press the Tab key and it will fill in the rest.

I know it seems like a lot of stuff at first, but once you get everything set up and start using it a lot you will definitely be glad you did. It makes it possible to bookmark every single page that you have the slightest bit of interest in and be able to easily find it at a later time. If you happen to never want to go there again, you don't have to scroll through it every time you are looking for other bookmarks. Managing very large amounts of bookmarks made easy. Its almost like having a personal search engine.

I hope that this has been helpful because it took a while to type all this out, but I wouldn't have done it if I didn't think this system wasn't worth it. I hope you start using it and spread it to others, because the more people that are in the system and the more bookmarks to new pages added, the easier it will be for everyone to find exactly what they are looking for, and nothing that they aren't.

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