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.


Anonymous said…
I've used Delicious for many years, even after researching alternatives when it changed hands, and after trying a dedicated (but flawed application). However, the inability to browse bookmarks cross-browser cross-device directly *within any browser on any device where I'm the logged-in user* is a problem still waiting to be solved.
Anonymous said…
What you really need is "Scrapbook for Firefox". It has revolutionised my consumption of knowledge. Bookmarks are now obsolete. They are good for people who don't really use the web.

No more dead links. EVER. No more links to whole pages – just store the relevant quote, paragraph, section, div. Or mirror whole websites, including binary downloads, with hands-on edition of URL filters in realtime while it mirrors. Indexable and text-searchable. Taggable! Save your online shopping receipts, evidence from your website accounts and content from corners of the web inaccessible to automated spiders from search engines. Scrapbook is my personal offline mirror of the World Wide Web, my unstructured knowledge base and my brain prosthesis/coprocessor. It doesn't cripple the browser and it doesn't slow down as it grows into gigabytes. (Search function could still be improved.)

If you insist on having an online rather than offline solution... you could still use Scrapbook by installing it on a network drive in some cloud. You could even serve your 'z:\scrapbook\data" directory via a personal web server in order to share it online with others – all snippets are browsable using an ordinary browser without extension. Then you could serve someone a link like http://www.my.computer/20121010235959/ for a single snippet.

One catch: you really need Firefox for that because the clone of Scrapbook for Chrome doesn't look fit to handle gigabytes of content. To me, it's not a problem because I can't "power browse" without Firefox anyway, thanks to its other extensions such as "Session Manager", vertical "Tree Style Tabs", the capacity to load and unload selected tabs from memory without shutting them ("BarTab", for old versions of Firefox only), "NoScript" and "FoxyProxy".

My only complaint about Firefox is that it's relatively sluggish. (For small number of tabs only. Owing to mentioned extensions, two years-old Firefox 3.6.3 beats latest Chrome hundredfolds for purposes of "power browsing" with massive numbers of tabs. Sadly, later versions of Firefox are way too fat for "power browsing".)

I have always wished that a tool like Scrapbook had existed. But everyone in my social circles had failed to deliver until I discovered it myself in early 2012. By then, Scrapbook had existed for nearly a decade. What are my social circles good for? I'm living in a death trap! I'm writing this to save you from a similar experience of wasted years in unnecessary ignorance.
Anonymous said…
Oh, and in all this goodness, source URLs are not lost. They are saved along... like in traditional bookmarks. So Scrapbook is not simply a "Save page as HTML" function found in every browser.

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