Social Bookmark – Common Features and History

If you have ever sent an email to a friend recommending a link, then you have participated in basic social bookmarking. You probably have also come across websites that you wanted to return to at a later time, and thus have bookmarked them for later. This means that you have saved them into your web browser. A social bookmark means saving a website for later, only the saving is not exclusive to your browser, as it is done on the web. Social bookmarking allows for bookmarks saved to the web to easily be shared with your online social circle.

A social bookmarking service is a service available online that allows its users to add, comment on, edit and share bookmarks of Internet documents. Ever since 1996, several online services for bookmark management have been launched. The most popular such services, at the moment, are: Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit, StumbleUpon, Delicious, Tweetmeme, Digg, Fark, and others are out there also. It was Delicious, which was launched in 2003, that made the terms “social bookmark”/bookmarking and “tagging” popular. Tagging is what allows the users to manage their bookmarks in a flexible manner.

What are some common features of a social bookmark?

• First of all, a social bookmark does not save the resource itself; it only marks a reference to that resource, respectively the link of the bookmarked page.

• Metadata can be associated with the bookmark, meaning that a description can be added so that it can easily be understood what the bookmark is about. For example you can save the image of a vase made out of a bottle and add tags to it such as “DIY”, “Gift idea”, “Recycle”. This way, you easily remember why you saved it and also others may easily find it when interested in DIY stuff. Metadata can refer to free text comments, votes showing the quality of an item or the already mentioned tags. In relation to tags, the word “folksonomy” was created.

• Collaborative tagging appears to have its own dynamics and has lead to a form of shared vocabularies to occur, specific to bookmarking systems, known under the name of folksonomy. This has happened although no central controlled vocabulary is available, so that tags be limited to certain words. Given the relationship between tags, some social bookmarking sites can create clusters of tags and associated bookmarks.

• A social bookmark service usually offers several options where sharing is concerned. Bookmarks that a user has made can be made public, can be kept private or they can be shared with only certain specified other users, within defined groups or inside of only certain networks. The shared bookmarks can be seen by those allowed to in chronological order, by category, by tags or as results returned by search engines.

• Users are usually encouraged to manage their bookmarks using tags; however, some services allow for management to be done using folders or categories also.

• Information about how many members of such a social network have bookmarked a certain item is usually provided.

• Web feeds can be provided by bookmarking networks, announcing new bookmarks that have been saved and shared by other members of the network. This aspect can be used to get traffic to your site, as you can promote it while networking with other users who practice bookmarking in the same environment. Social media strategies can be developed around social bookmarking sites.

• Depending on the social bookmark service, bookmarks can be imported or exported to/from browsers or they can be emailed, ratings can be performed, web annotations made. New features are added as the bookmarking services mature.

Short history of social bookmarking

The concept of bookmarks that are shared online dates back to the launch of itList, in 1996. The following three years brought the competition between occurring bookmarking services. Then, names in the business were BackFlip, ClickMarks, HotLinks or Blink. The early generation of social bookmarking services died at some point, maybe because of the historic dot-com bubble or maybe because of product design used by new competitors.

In 2003 the concept of tagging was released, when Delicious (initially del.icio.us) was launched. The term “social bookmarking” was also introduced by Delicious. Other services started to appear on the market, sometimes named “social citation” services: Simpy, CiteULike, Furl, StumbleUpon.

Flickr, a service aimed at social photo sharing, appeared in 2004 and allowed the use of tags, after the Delicious model. Similar services were aimed specifically at businesses were also created (Connectbeam). Currently, many of these services are no longer available (Furl, Simpy, Furl, Faves, Gnolia).

While some bookmarking services have disappeared, others have gained great popularity and are not only used for their basic purpose, that of bookmarking, sharing bookmarks and discovering interesting online items in this way, but also for promoting businesses and gaining online popularity for websites that need web traffic.

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