I’ve recently started using the popular social bookmarking site del.icio.us at work. I work in the research office of a UK university and part of my job is to find and disseminate research funding opportunities to academics.
The usual way to do this, of course, is via email and on the department’s intranet site. On a typical day, I’ll trawl through a range of online funding databases, like ResearchResearch, Community of Science, Welcomeurope, CORDIS, UK Research Office, etc. and pass on the relevant information to different groups of staff.
However, since what I’m doing in my day-to-day tasks is essentially finding, sorting, and distributing links, it occurred to me that using del.icio.us would be a great alternative way to store and share funding opportunities with colleagues. My intention is to create a database of opportunities which are relevant to my institution, and which staff can peruse at their leisure. You can find the beginnings of that database here:
The best case scenario would be if a good number of research-active staff join del.icio.us themselves (or use their existing accounts) and create a network to share research funding links with one another. However, I’m willing to settle for a more likely option: a minority of tech-savvy staff start using the service as another information source when seeking funding. (I’m not expecting miracles here; I always keep in mind the one per cent rule.)
Here are 5 more reasons why I decided to use del.icio.us at work:
- It’s popular: Del.icio.us is the most popular social bookmarking website around, so there’s a higher chance that other staff will have at least heard of it, if not already use it themselves.
- It’s simple: Unlike many other social bookmarking sites, such as clipmarks, furl, and blinklist, del.icio.us has a simple look and feel; some might say too simple, but at least it hasn’t jumped on the web 2.0 reflective text/beta version bandwagon! It works nicely with most browsers, and has a pared-down vibe, rather like Google in the early days.
- It’s easy to use: From the readable URL scheme to the easily sortable and customizable tags, it doesn’t take more than 10 minutes to understand and start to use the site. This is crucial when promoting the site to those who might never have experienced social bookmarking before.
- RSS: As far as RSS feeds go, del.icio.us is very powerful. You can pull a feed from any tag you like, or from combined tags, or from a particular user, or from their inbox. You can even pull a feed for a specific type of media or filetype, as this blog post shows. I haven’t used this feature yet at work, but the ability to export the latest links as RSS will no doubt come in handy. For example, if this takes off I’ll probably end up putting an RSS feed on our office’s intranet page.
- It’s quick: This is perhaps the biggest boon of all. It takes between 60-90 seconds of my working day to post a link to del.icio.us. All I do is copy a relevant line from the page for the description, then click a few tags — perhaps adding one or two new ones if necessary. All done! The browser buttons are essential timesavers here, allowing speedy one-click saves.
Of course, it’s really important to set up a coherent tagging system before you start: I generally use at least one tag to describe the source website, several for the actual content, and various others to denote whether it’s a funding opportunity with or without a deadline, etc. Once that’s in place, it’s a breeze!
If you’re not convinced check this ReadWriteWeb article which compares the features of a number of social bookmarking websites, and choose the one which is right for you.