My Strategy for Using Del.icio.us Tags for Bookmarks

I have been struggling to keep track of and organize all the websites I need to save, review, re-visit, and frequent. This would be easy if I used one computer with one browser, but I travel between my computer / browser combination at work and the three browsers I use on my computer at home. How can I maintain all the websites–academic, professional, personal, private, and needed for future research–between all these machines and locations?

I think I finally found a way to do it using a feature that I rarely used before in the simplest social bookmark application, del.icio.us.

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I have had an account on del.icio.us for some time, but have never figured out how to use it to organize my online life. I do not use it much for the social bookmarking as it was intended, but some of the features to allow this to happen work really well meeting my organizational needs.

After reading Gene Smith’s wonderful book on Tagging and attending his tagging presentation while at Northern Voice 2008, I have been thinking about more creative uses of using tags for personal use, rather than just thinking about them for social purposes. I have started to use the tags on the right of my del.icio.us page in the same way I would use folders, as concept organizers.

For example, I need to get to the log-on page for an online class I am taking at CIIS, so I saved it as a bookmark on del.icio.us and tagged it “ciis.” As I have currently have 170 web pages / sites bookmarked, it can be a challenge to locate that particular one in the del.icio.us list.

delicious1.jpgTo get to this page, I click the del.icio.us shortcut on my browser and then I can see the first 100 of my bookmarked pages / websites.

It is here that I use the tags on the right side of the page as organizational “folders” or conceptual groupings. I look for my own tag that I created and associated with that web page when I saved it to del.icio.us, and click on it. For CIIS, there are two separate web pages I need to access, and clicking the CIIS tag brings both of them together on one page, ready for me to select and go there. Voila, I now have the direct bookmark to the site I need, accessible from any computer I use.

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Now that I have created this system and it seems that it works for me, I will go through my del.icio.us bookmarks to clean-up and better standardize the tags to associate them with how I think. If it helps others in a social bookmarking folksonomy manner, then that is wonderful! However, with the amount of information and data I need to sort and crunch, I will not be able to contribute much if I cannot even find my own saved items!

7 thoughts on “My Strategy for Using Del.icio.us Tags for Bookmarks

  1. I agree with this strategy wholeheartedly. In fact, I agree with being both conceptual and idiosyncratic. The beauty of tags is that they are one of the few methods of organization that get better as they scale… so there’s no reason not to do both. I always tag items in del.icio.us with my own idiosyncratic set of tags that make sense to me, often associating the items with classes, diff blogs, projects, etc. Some tags are actually conceptual containers for items. I then attach, when I feel like it, tags that are meant to make those items visible. It sounds like a lot of work, but is in fact just a matter of habit and takes only a few seconds to add a resource to del.icio.us…

  2. Chris, some great points. I suppose that a challenge is that I was trying to use tags in a standardized way, though such formal standardizations do not exist. It has taken some time, but now I realize that the key to the tool’s usability is for me to make use of it in a way that helps me accomplish something for me in the somewhat ideosyncratic way that I think and organize information. If it works for others, great. If not, at least I can use it!

    Thus, writing about it has helped me to articulate it more. Part of being a reflective practitioner!

  3. Jeffrey, I enjoyed hearing your whirring wheels here about Del.icio.us tags. Tags delight me, and I don’t know what I did before Del.icio.us came along to help me re-find my finds. But I have lots of redundancy in my system, so I was relating to your comment “clean-up and better standardize the tags to associate them with how I think.”

    You will probably discover this soon if you haven’t already, but you can also bundle tags into groups – which helps me. I had mine all bundled under an my old identity (Perspector) but since my import have not finished.

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