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What is Del.icio.us and Why Do I Care?
One of the first things we learned about using the web is how to save bookmarks. You are visiting some web site, and you want to save that link so you can come back to it later. So you save it as a bookmark (or favorite), and it gets added to your list of saved sites.
This works fine. All of your bookmarked sites show up in a list in your browser, and you can return to them any time. You can even organize your bookmarks into folders, just like you would with your files. Use different folders for different topics, and you have a nicely organized collection of web sites that you can return to with ease at the click of a mouse.
There are two problems with this. Many teachers use multiple computers. At the very least, you probably have one at school and one at home. In some cases, teachers share rooms and end up using several different computers at school throughout the course of the day. But the bookmarks are stored on the computer you were using when you created them. That means you can’t get to bookmarks you created on another computer.
There’s also another problem. If your bookmarks are stored on your computer, what happens when the computer’s hard drive dies? Your bookmarks die along with it.
What we really need is bookmark portability.
Delicious (http://del.icio.us) is one service that helps you manage your bookmarks. Start by signing up for a free account. You will also need to install a toolbar, so you have access to the Delicious tools. Then, when you’re surfing the web and encounter a site you want to bookmark, use Delicious instead. You can add notes about the site and choose one or more “tags” for it. Tags are one-word descriptors for categorizing your sites. For example, I use the tag “profdev” for sites related to professional development. I use “2blog” for sites that I want to blog about. You can use any tags you like.
Delicious then allows you to access your links from any computer. Simply log in to your account, and you can manage your links. If you want, you can choose to share your links with others, too.
You can also search Delicious to see which sites other people have tagged in a certain way. Maybe you’re doing a lesson on photosynthesis. You can search delicious for items that other people have tagged with “photosynthesis.” The result is a list of hundreds of web sites about photosynthesis that others have found valuable enough to bookmark.
By sharing your links, you contribute to the global collection of annotated resources related to whatever topics your tags cover.
So How Do I Do This?
First, go to the Del.icio.us site. It’s at http://del.icio.us. There aren’t any www’s in there. There’s no dot com. They were being cute when they set up the site. Most people just find it annoying because they can’t remember where to put the dots.
Once you’re on the Delicious site, click the Register button in the upper-right corner. Fill out the information they ask for. The password has to be at least six characters, and it has to have either a number or a symbol in it.
Once you register, you’ll be taken to a page that allows you to install software in your browser to integrate with your Delicious account. This page should automatically detect your browser and operating system, and take you to the right tool.
Go ahead and install the buttons (or extension). In Internet Explorer, this will add a Delicious toolbar to your browser. In Firefox, it’ll add new buttons to your navigation toolbar.
If you want to install these buttons on other computers, you can find them in the “Bookmarking” section of the Help page on the Delicious web site.
It’s Installed. Now what?
When you’re on a web site that you want to bookmark, click on the new TAG button. When you do this, a pop-up window will appear, allowing you to add notes about this site.
You can also enter tags. Think of tags as being categories for your links. You can display lists of sites that are tagged a certain way. Because links can have as many tags as you want, you can organize your links in lots of different ways.
Your Delicious links are available by clicking on the Delicious icon, or by going to http://del.icio.us/username, where “username” is your username. This is great, because it gives you access to your links from any Internet-connected computer.
What Else Do I Need to Know?
By default, your bookmarks are public. That means anyone can see the list of things you’re bookmarking. There may be sites you want to bookmark that you don’t want everyone to know about. When tagging these sites, just click “Do Not Share” and they won’t be visible unless you’re logged in to your Delicious account.
For this to work, you may need to enable private saving. From the Delicious page, select Settings, and then Private Saving under Bookmarks. Then, check the box to allow private saving, and save the change.
You can import your bookmarks from your browser. From the Settings page, select Import/Export under Bookmarks, and follow the instructions provided.
If you want to share a link with another Delicious user, add an additional tag of “for:username” when you tag the link. Replace “username” with the person’s Delicious username. Then, the link will go onto their “Links for You” page.