What is social bookmarking, and how is it different from a regular bookmark or favorite in my browser?
What is Social Bookmarking?
Everyone knows that a bookmark is a handy way to remember a favorite web page so you don't have to waste time searching for it again in the vastness of cyberspace. Social bookmarking takes this concept to the next level, enabling Internet users to share their bookmarks with each other in a collaborative fashion. Most often this involves social bookmarking websites where users can create accounts and add their favorite bookmarks, along with keyword tags that help to organize the data and make it easy for others to search.
You can think of social bookmarking as a tool to identify the coolest or most useful sites in a particular category, or a way to discover new resources. One person shares a bookmark, and the larger community makes a thumbs-up or thumbs-down decision. The cream rises to the top in a democratic manner, while the knowledge and horizons of many are expanded. The "folksonomy" created in the process makes the overwhelming amount of Web-based information increasingly easier to search and navigate over time.
Another benefit of keeping your bookmarks on the Web is that you can access them from any computer, with any browser. If you're concerned about privacy, you can also make a bookmark private, so it's only viewable by you.
Popular Social Bookmarking Sites
Digg is another social bookmarking hotspot, focused on technology and science. Digg users submit links to articles and websites, along with a brief commentary. Others can comment on the article and click a button to indicate they they "digg it" too. Links are promoted to Digg's front page through a user-based ranking system. Interestingly, even the user comments are subject to the voting and vetting process. Registered Digg users can rate comments left by others, which helps to eliminate spammy or offensive entries.
In a similar vein, Reddit is a source for new and interesting online content. But unlike Digg, where front-page stories can rapidly appear and descend into oblivion, Reddit's front page is an evolving list of the most popular links, based on up or down voting by members of the community. Reddit is also less tech-focused and offers a system that recommends links to you, based on input from users with similar voting patterns.
Pros and Cons of Social Bookmarking
Like any technology, social bookmarking has its share of advantages and shortcomings. Because the Internet is a rapidly expanding source of information, it requires some form of organization to make sure that useful and relevant information is easily discoverable. The big advantage of social bookmarking is that allows individuals to reap and store the fruit of their own research, while enriching the knowledge and experience of others through sharing of bookmarks. This turns the entire online community into a willing army of researchers, creating a semantic web in which the relationships between objects are machine readable. This is important because it helps computers to arrange, search for and present information more efficiently.
Because tag-based systems have no standard set of keywords they can be subject to errors or ambiguity. Mistagging due to spelling errors, the use of tags that have multiple meanings, and the lack of hierarchical relationships between tags are problems that must be addressed for the long-term success of social bookmarking as a way of organizing the Web.
Social bookmarking is also susceptible to corruption that may be introduced by users with an axe to grind, or a product to promote. Spammers sometimes try to bookmark a page many times, or tag it with popular but irrelevant tags, hoping to fool viewers and influence their search engine rankings.
Got comments about social bookmarking or tagging? Post your thoughts below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 5 Feb 2007
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Social Bookmarking (Posted: 5 Feb 2007)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved