Time to rethink bookmarks?
Realising that I wanted to dig up a search query that I had done that morning, I opened up my history and began searching. The list of sites I had visited in just one day was quite astounding. Most of the sites were either Google searches or the sites found from those searches.
As an information worker this is actually a fairly common browsing pattern. I spend a lot of time researching and problem solving, and taking little snippets of information from various sources.
Lately I have found myself wishing that I had a better way to track those sites and pages that I have found useful. The Google plus one extension in Chrome does provide a rudimentary way to identify sites that have been useful, but those results are then buried. Subsequent searches don't put sites that I have plused one at the top of any new search (although "Search Your World" was apparently supposed to do that), and I have found no convenient way to search through the list of sites that I have previously plused one.
Bookmarks are equally as ineffective. Given the hundreds of pages that I would like to mark as having been useful, traditional bookmarks become an unusable mass of links that can only be searched by often obtuse titles.
So I revisited a fairly quaint notion of social bookmarks. I use XMarks on a regular basis, and while it supports tagging of bookmarks, the Chrome extension doesn't provide a convenient way to do so. So, despite rumors of its demise, I tried Delicious.
Delicious doesn't have a native Chrome extension, but the bookmarklet does allow you to quickly save and tag a page. And after just a day of making a conscious effort to tag up pages I have found useful, I can say that the ability to quickly tag and search content I know that I have found value in is incredibly powerful.
For all the focus sites like Google Plus, Facebook and Twitter put on sharing information, I'm surprised that it is so difficult to personalise your own view of the web. I'm sure these sites are collecting stats like mad in the background, and over time page ranks fluctuate with the browsing behaviour of the masses. But sometimes statistics just don't apply to the individual, and being able to rank your own content has more value than seeing a homogenised view of the net. I know Google has tried personalised search rankings in the past, and I don't know why it didn't stick. Honestly, the first search engine to allow me to put my own ranking on results will win my loyalty. Forget Axis Yahoo. I don't need thumbnails and gestures in my searches, I just need to be able to find content that I find useful, and not information that your averaged algorithms run over the browsing behaviour of everyone else tells you might be useful.