Yesterday evening Mike (Thanks, Mike, and welcome to elsua!), one of the folks behind BlinkList, shared over at Web Links and Thoughts To Revisit the following comment that I thought was worth while a reply to on a separate weblog post to provide some further insights:
“Why use so many social bookmarking services and what prevents you from just going with BlinkList?”
So here we go with that reply. Yesterday I commented how I am eventually making use of some of the different social bookmarking offerings that are out there and after reading Mike’s comment I feel I perhaps need to expand further a bit on what I really mean with “making use of”. In principle, I am making extensive use of del.icio.us to store all of my online bookmarks for the simple fact of its extensibility that allows me to export the contents of the different bookmarks elsewhere, or import them into other tools or offerings, one of them being our own IBM social bookmarking internal offering, which I have weblogged about not so long ago. So the fact that I can have both my Intranet and Internet bookmarks in a single repository, in this case, our internal offering, by putting together both that tool and del.icio.us bookmarks is a big plus to me. No other tool that I know of provides that integration. At least, not yet.
Then the fact that del.icio.us seems to integrate quite nicely as well with Opera, my default web browser, is also another big plus that I have enjoyed from the very beginning. I know that other tools and offerings are very tightly integrated into making good use of FireFox but the fact that they are only supporting that particular browser is not something that I find quite comforting as it would make you quite dependable on it. And right now FireFox is quite far from being my default browser as can be read all over the place here in my weblog. If anything, I can only see Flock taking that job once it becomes a bit more stable, but I will weblog about that later on. This browser support restriction is one of the main issues that I see that prevent me from using BlinkList much more extensively. I know that there is a bookmarklet that I could use (And I already have it up and running) but what I am talking about more is the possibility of importing my Opera bookmarks, a feature that, for the time being has not been added, as far as I can see. If BlinkList would add that functionality next to importing del.icio.us and Furl bookmarks it would certainly have a much stronger case for me to try it out. So we shall see how that goes.
With all that said, though, it has been quite some time since I last tried BlinkList, so triggered by Mike’s comment yesterday, I decided to take it for another spin and see how much it changed from the last time that I made extensive use of it, and that not just related to subscribing to the RSS Newsfeed. So far I am enjoying the experience quite a lot I must admit. So I may eventually give it a try further as soon as I could figure out how I can get the BlinkList bookmarks exported into del.icio.us so that I can then make use of them through my IBM internal social bookmarking offering. Hopefully, that shouldn’t take too long but for the time being let me share with you what would be the 5 features I have been enjoying the most while trying out the tool. I am sure there are many more, but these are the ones have made me consider a switch from one to the other. Thus here it goes:
- Ability to subscribe to RSS Newsfeeds: Indeed, with this particular option and pretty much like with all the other social bookmarking tools, you get the chance to see what everyone else is bookmarking and therefore be able to find connections with common interests reflected in the selection of those bookmarks. Quite handy to build a list of friends to share some further thoughts with.
- Ability of backing up your bookmarks: For sure this is one of my favourite features not just because of BlinkList but more because of the different issues we have been experiencing with del.icio.us and its several outages. So now that I can backup my bookmarks certainly makes me feel much more comfortable and why not, offer a very strong case to forget del.icio.us and start using BlinkList much more heavily. Thumbs up !
- Ability of importing already existing bookmarks from other tools: I know that I have mentioned this already but I feel it is also a very neat feature from the perspective that if you decide to give it a try you can already start with a whole bunch of bookmarks you may already have so that you can see how it will all work, instead of just having to build up your lists from zero, once again. Only thing that I would like to see in here as well is the ability to not only import bookmarks but also export them, so that, for instance, I can get them in sync with our IBM internal offering. That would be pretty neat, indeed.
- Its ease of Use: This is one of the biggest improvements I have seen since last time I used it extensively. BlinkList is a whole lot more user friendly now that it was a few weeks ago and that is something that I find quite interesting as it shows that there is a commitment to improve things for the end-user and try to make that social bookmarking experience the most effective it can be for us all. Navigating through the different options, settings, and whatever other choices is just done quite nicely and without much hassle of having to try to figure out where you are at all times, like it happens with some other tools. Thus another thumbs up on this one !
- And, finally, another great feature that I have always enjoyed quite a lot is the fact that I can get to see all of my bookmarks on a specific Tag Cloud: I have been a big fan of tagging (I am already working on a couple of weblog posts on the subject that I will be sharing later on in time) so the fact that BlinkList allows me to have a very graphical display of my bookmarks through tag clouds is a big plus as well. You can see how I have been making extensive use of tags with offerings like TagCloud, Tagalag, so I would not be surprise that this feature, next to the other four that I have mentioned above, would eventually entice me to continue making much more use of BlinkList as opposed to other social bookmarking tools and offerings.
Oh, and in case you are wondering what I basically do with the rest of the other social bookmarking offerings like Furl, Spurl, Simpy, populicio.us, etc. etc. I just basically subscribe to their different RSS Newsfeeds as more than once I am bound to end up reading through a whole lot of interesting sites regarding KM, Communities of Practice, Social Networking, Collaboration and Productivity Tools, which is something that I have always found very handy if I would want to expand my horizons a bit and get exposed to more stuff. But as I said, so far del.icio.us is the main source I am currently using for storing my online bookmarks, although after having created this weblog post and having tried to use BlinkList much more extensively with all these new improvements I wouldn’t be surprised if things would change very shortly. But how about you? Which one does meet your needs the best? Which one is your killer social bookmarking tool and why ?