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Future of bookmarking site Delicious uncertain

When I was in high school, I spent a lot of time using my physics teacher’s computer. I was his aide, which meant that for a period a day, I goofed off on the Internet, and this was back in the 1990s, before the Internet (for most people) was serious business.

I remember that he had an inhuman number of bookmarks saved on his computer. Everything from online simulators of the effects of a nuclear explosion to interesting graphics explaining gravity to the homepage of the St. Louis Rams. It was insane.

I never understood the desire to save bookmarks in my browser, especially since having them hidden on a pull-down menu meant that I would almost certainly never see them again so long as I lived. Yet as time went on and I moved through college, I found a need to keep track of sites. What to do?

Enter the social bookmarking sites. Delicious was king. Sure, there were others like Ma.gnolia and Google Bookmarks, but I went for the big boy, the popular one. I figured that if people were sharing their bookmarks, it would be good to stick with the popular site where you’d have the weight of numbers increasing the chances you’d find useful links.

Gradually, though, I moved away from Delicious (which was then called to Diigo, which I still find to be the best bookmarking tool out there — even though I have just bought a Pinboard account and am giving that a whirl too.

That is why last month’s news that Yahoo has more or less given up on Delicous doesn’t faze me too much. (Sure, Delicious says it’s not going anywhere, but development on the site is effectively dead, which means there’s no point in sticking around.)

Why did I lose interest in Delicious? It didn’t work.

I can explain. It didn’t work in the way I expected it to. When I signed on, I thought I’d do a few Delicious searches and find some useful links that would expand my knowledge or at least kill some time.

Yet when faced with the Delicious search box, I was often paralyzed with indecision. With every possible subject in the whole wide world to look for, what subject to pick, and how to best divine the tags used by other users to classify the information that I now want to find?

When I did manage to decide on a keyword to search for, I was often presented with page after page of the most generic links possible. Links to homepages and general information. The deep links were either buried beyond my patience to find them or missing altogether.

Oh, and the social aspect of the site? Forget about it. None of my friends used Delicious, and with Facebook growing to take over the social side of my Web life, I wasn’t about to divide my attention and try to build a network on a site where I knew no one.

So why do I stick with social bookmarking sites like Diigo and Pinboard?

Diigo is more useful than a public repository of links. Diigo lets me highlight material on a page and then annotate the page, my comments, other people’s comments, etc. That is useful — far more useful than any networking or sharing features.

And Pinboard? Well, it comes highly recommended, and I wanted to get in early. That’s about it. Plus, it’s a small company, and someone responded personally to me when I e-mailed a question about synching with Diigo. In my book, they’re off to a good start.