Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Social Bookmarking

by Susan Codone

Social bookmarking is a Web 2.0 phenomenon that is growing site by site, with explosive growth in the last couple of years.  Most of us began bookmarking by designating sites we liked as "Favorites" in Internet Explorer.  With social bookmarking, instead of saving your favorite web addresses on your computer, you save them at a social bookmarking website, thus giving you access to them from any computer with Internet access.  This allows you to share, organize, search, and manage your web resources and look at those of others.

The key to this is in the word "social".  John Thompson, writing in the June 2008 issue of Phi Delta Kappan, (Technology: Don't Be Afraid to Explore Web 2.0) says that social bookmarking gives you greater capabilities than the original means of bookmarking -- you decide if you want others to have access to your links.  Peter Godwin, in New Review of Information Networking (2007), says that by "tagging", or assigning keywords to your links, you help link ideas and share resources with others (Information Literacy Meets Web 2.0: How the New Tools Affect Our Own Training and Our Teaching).  Thompson also says that the result of shared tagging is a "tag cloud", or a shared group of tags of different sizes representing different topics.  The size of a tag cloud can indicate its topical popularity.  Godwin says that this can strengthen searching power and increase understanding of topics.  In fact, the social bookmarking site (formerly tells users to tag bookmarks and "let collections emerge."


There are many social bookmarking sites, but let's look at the top three as currently positioned by their Alexa rankings (  Digg, or, is a social bookmarking site where people can discover and share content from anywhere on the web.  According to their about us page, Digg allows users to vote on content, letting the best content surface to the top by popularity -- in other words, users collectively determine the value of content.  With ten million users, Digg is "democratizing digital media".


The social bookmarking site StumbleUpon offers "stumblers" the chance to discover and share websites, with matches delivered based on personal preferences.  Pages are recommended by users with up/down ratings, and rather than using a traditional search engine, members (or stumblers) are taken directly to websites that match their personal interests and preferences.  StumbleUpon describes themselves as a combination of human opinion and machine learning.  With eight million users, StumbleUpon ( offers current collaborative opinions on website quality for their users.


Squidoo is an interesting website that allows you to gather your perspectives on topics into something they call "lenses" and publish them on the site.  Lenses are pages or overview articles that pull together everything you know about a topic and bring it to the attention to others.  Squidoo calls itself a publishing platform and a community of users and says they help you share your interests, build an online identity, and connect with other readers.  With more than 1,400,000 published lenses,  Squidoo is establishing itself quickly as a major web presence.  You can also make money from lenses; if you create a lens that gets lots of traffic, you can place Google ads on it and earn money.  Some Squidoo users are earning thousands of dollars monthly.

Social bookmarking sites offer many collaborative services for users to not only bookmark web services, but also share and manage their favorite sites with others.  The idea of creating a tag cloud and having popular topics emerge through user input is another factor unique to these sites.  Clearly, they are having an impact on the Internet based on their popularity, and it's certain that they will continue to grow.


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