The fallout from the “sunset: Delicious” slide continues to echo around. Perhaps because bookmarks are a simple place to start, there are a few people beginning to host them locally; for example, here’s Jeremy Keith’s recent post (quoted approvingly at No More Sharecropping). Meanwhile, Phil Wilson said on Twitter that he
doesn’t really understand why people are looking to move their content into other, 3rd party, proprietary bookmarking systems.
And Les Orchard made a worthwhile post with its own summary:
Don’t depend on Delicious; host your own, pay for it elsewhere, or hope for the best. Use real-time feeds to stitch the bookmarking diaspora back together into topical aggregate indexes.
My answer is related to my post on Saturday about why I’m sticking with Delicious: the network. Tom Insam asked
what does the delicious network do that I can’t also do with an RSS reader and independent linklogs?
It’s a fair question. I’d say the main issues are UI and, more seriously, discoverability.
The Delicious network page is built for links. It shows notes nicely, and also displays tags and who posted something in a compact fashion. (The Pinboard network page does the same, to be fair.) By contrast, generic RSS readers are, well, generic. In dealing with everything from links to photos to long form text to podcasts, they have to make compromises, but for browsing links, it makes them a poor interface.¹²
The more pressing problem, to my mind, is discovery. There’s a few facets to this. Firstly, below every link, both Pinboard and Delicious allow you to see who else bookmarked it, which can be useful for finding people with a similar set of interests. Secondly, both provide a central place where you can enter someone’s nick and see if they exist.³ Thirdly, Delicious allows you to browse the network of another user, which is another route to finding people you may want to follow.
If people move to independent linklogs, how do you replicate these issues of discovery? Jeremy Keith dodges this question by syndicating his links into the framework of the centralised services, which works, but the larger challenge of a fully decentralised system that still allows the network effects seems to me to be at least an order of magnitude harder than getting people to self-host, and even that’s tricky. (After all, most people have moved to Pinboard or another hosted service, like Diigo, rather than downloading their bookmarks).
Still, all of the most interesting problems are hard ones. I’d love to know if I’m missing people working on this (as it seems like the sort of thing Tantek Çelik, amongst others, would care about) and, if not, who else is thinking about it. That, or be told I’m overstating the problem. Anyone?
¹ The confusion in the various RSS formats over whether links should point to the final destination or the post describing the destination hasn’t helped.↩
³ Neither Delicious nor Pinboard provides a proper “people search” feature, but they at least have a central list, which makes it far easier to build than one based on a general search engine.↩