Thursday, 26 February 2009

Delicious -- first report

Of all the new sites Bill introduced us to on Tuesday, Delicious is the one I can best see myself using. I would want to do so very cautiously, but I can see the benefit of sharing bookmarks with students in certain circumstances. The advantage of being able to access all my own bookmarks, wherever I am in the world, matters less to me, at least for the moment, since I do pretty much all my online work on one of two computers -- my own laptop and my office machine, both of which I have now fully equipped with bookmarks, favourites etc. But I can see, obviously, that being able to import from Delicious (can you do it that way round as well?) would be very useful next time I'm changing computers. And maybe by that stage I'll have fully adjusted to Web 2.0 and won't want to bother with old-fashioned favourites any more. Maybe.

Like a dutiful student, I went on to Delicious this afternoon, and started adding bookmarks. I decided against importing from the favourites on my own machine because I wanted to be very carefully selective and only add those bookmarks that I want to own up to in an academic environment. Hence lots of worthy URLs like the British Library manuscript catalogue and CERES (Cambridge English Renaissance Electronic Service). I was pleased to find that if I bookmarked EEBO (Early English Books Online), an essential resource for my research area which is only accessible via the elibrary, I could get access to it without the extra step of having to go through Shibboleth. This is all the more encouraging since one of the disincentives of using Delicious is the nuisance of having to log in. (Though perhaps I wouldn't have to log into Delicious every time if I were to download those buttons Bill mentioned.)

So, my preliminary conclusion: Delicious potentially very useful, but I will want to explore it further. One thing I haven't yet established is whether you can choose to make certain bookmarks available to one network and certain others to another. I might want, for instance, to recommend some bookmarks to my first-year students, and a different set to my special option students. (I do realise that I could distinguish the two sets of bookmarks by tagging and then ask students to sort them, but I can't help feeling that this last instruction might be enough to offset Delicious's many other advantages.) Or I might want to have a 'teaching' set of bookmarks, available to students, and another, non-overlapping set of 'research' bookmarks, available to other women's writing or manuscript specialists. Is this possible?


  1. With regard to your very sensible approach to all of this, it puts me in mind of Wenger's theory of communities of practice, and the concept of 'legitimate peripheral participation', which describes how people join a community by participating in simple and low-risk - yet productive - tasks. It is exactly through these peripheral activities that the novice becomes acquainted with the tasks, vocabulary, and organizing principles of the community.

    With regard to your selective bookmarking wish - yes yes yes to using tags (as you are already, I see)! These are central to much of the Web 2.0 world and certainly to social bookmarking. Try delicious help section and look at network bundles and subscription bundles - oh, and blog on it! I've not tried these out much, so I'd be REALLY interested as to how they can be used effectively :-)

  2. Afterthought: try it out with our Web 2.0 colleagues - we're all learning together.