Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Is Delicious for saving? Or for sharing? Or both?

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Today, Delicious released a pretty hefty set of features, and it’s a good occasion to talk about a couple of issues related to what this blog is about. First, as I mentioned in my last post, I feel like I can post more frequently and with more relevance over at my CloudNotes group on FriendFeed. The group provides an easy way for me to share a few of the many posts and blogs that are already covering the Delicious update more ably and quickly than I could.

A story about a major site’s significant update is going to be covered by every major blog outlet in the tech-o chamber, and each of them will have a slightly different take. Why not keep track with a few of them in FriendFeed? Certainly no need to duplicate the story with my own blog post. But I can still add my own commentary if I want. It’s the best of both worlds.

That being said, I do want to emphasize one thing the Read / Write post mentioned:

We've long believed that Delicious is one of the most under-appreciated social media services remaining from the early days of the social web. This new version could help win back some of the early love, but it does represent a radical shift away from the original vision most people have of the service as a tool for bookmarking things you want to return to later. The founder of Delicious, Joshua Schacter, said on Twitter last night "i hate the delicious twitter integration (sharing != saving) but i like the new search a great deal."

If I were writing my own blog post (and I guess, really, I am) that’s pretty much the story I would tell. Indeed, my post last year contrasting Delicious and FriendFeed, says something eerily similar:

I think people undervalue what's so great about del.icio.us. Better than any other Web site, Del.icio.us (along with its Firefox add-on) functions beautifully as a personal, extremely useful map of the Web. I wonder whether the tech-o chamber tends to overvalue social media and undervalue important, foundational functions, such as information collection and quick reference. It's worth asking the question: could FriendFeed do what Del.icio.us does? My answer is no.

I suppose some people might want to use Delicious primarily as a sharing vehicle. But not me. If I want something in my Twitter feed, I’ll usually post with Bit.ly. Twitter is for conversation. It’s ephemeral. I certainly don’t use it for things I’m planning on saving for later. For more permanent reference I use Delicious and Evernote.

So why is Delicious trying to partake of Twitter’s conversational, real time paradigm if it’s ultimately contradictory? Maybe Techcrunch’s analysis provides a clue. Their criticism both today and a few weeks ago pushes Delicious in two directions. Arrington and Siegler can’t seem to decide whether to criticize Delicious for adding features too slowly or attack it for being too complicated. So they do both. And maybe there’s some method to their madness.

Techcrunch is a pretty good proxy for the market, and today’s marketplace has declared real-time search and conversation to be sexy-land. Saving stuff for later is boring-ville. Delicious thinks it can be both your mistress and your wife. And given its scale (still unmatched by any other bookmarking service), maybe it can. As I’ve already said, Delicious is better than anyone when it comes to creating a social map of the internet’s past. What if they could bring you the present, too?

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