by Alejandro Torres Frías

In this, Part 2 of a series of tips and tricks to help us become effective and fluent computer users and internauts, I’m moving into surfing, archiving and retrieving web pages, one of the most frequent and probable uses for Internet “administration”.

2.  Get into Social Bookmarking to Organize, Expand and Retrieve Your Own Web
OK, you’ve downloaded one, some or all of the nice browsers I recommended on a previous post and feel ready to go to the Internet to do some research, e-mail, RSS feed reading or simply surf away, expecting to find and learn something new, cool, strange or even unexpected.  As we surf the web over time, we come across hundreds and even thousands of websites that we may want to save hoping to go back to them sometime in the future.   Bookmarking a website for later referral is one of the ways we can take hold of the web and its contents, thus creating some sort of “own” web.

Saving to “favorites” with the button on top of your browser was unfortunately the only solution we had for a long time.  The problem with the classic favorites was that when the number of web pages and/or folders saved grew to a high number, it became more and more difficult to later find the saved web pages you were looking for.  Another problem would be if we were at our home computer and realized that the bookmark we were looking for was at the office computer or at another computer somewhere else.  How many times did you loose all of your bookmarks saved in favorites after switching computers, installing or re-installing an OS?  Sure there were ways to back-up the favorite files to install them in another computer, but the very essence of it, the saving and retrieving method just didn’t work.  When you save files, folders and/or bookmarks, you want to make sure you will be able to find it again without great effort and in almost no time.

Thanks to social bookmarking, we’ve been able to solve the previously mentioned problems.  With social bookmarking, instead of saving and placing the bookmarks within a specific browser inside a specific computer, we are saving them online.  With social bookmarking, we can access the bookmarks we’ve saved from any computer in the world with access to Internet.  And it’s thanks to tagging, that we are able to retrieve them, even years later, with just a keyword or compound keyword search.  It’s truly amazing how fast and effectively we can find a website we saved no matter how long ago by looking for the right tag or tags.

There are multiple free bookmarking services, you have delicious, stumbleupon, magnolia, diigo and many others and they are and work similarly (except for stumbleupon, which has this great added benefit of installing buttons on your browser to ramdomly come across -or “stumble upon” new web sites depending on you interests).

My preferred service for social bookmarking is delicious, probably the first or earliest major social bookmarking service that came about, had success and got a massive number of users.  I currently have 1,959 web pages saved in my delicious account with 2,529 tags and I must say it has worked perfectly almost all the time.   It will depend on how precise you are when assigning tags to a web page you are saving, and how precisely you remember the tag or tags associated to the web page you are looking for.

With social bookmarking, you are also allowed to share the bookmarks you have.  For example, I can invite you to review my delicious bookmarks by giving you the url to my bookmarks (www.delicious.com/flexjandro), accepting you into “my network”, and vice versa, or you can surf what thousands of users have saved by visiting delicious’ home page, popular, or recent.  It’s really incredible what we can find and come across when we are surfing the delicious web site.  You can obviously run searches using tags, whichwill target the results.  If you would like to share a specific web site with someone in particular, you can send the link while you tag and save it.  And if you care to have a little more privacy on the contents you are archiving, you can save it as private, which means it will not be shared with anyone viewing your bookmarks.

All you have to do to be up and running with social bookmarking, is: 1: get an account with the social bookmarking service you choose, and 2: install the “tag” and “my bookmarks” buttons on your browsers.  Start enjoying the process of saving and retrieving bookmarks with social bookmarking.

Tell us about your own experience bookmarking.  Do you still use favorites?  Are there any other services or method you would like to recommend?  Tell us in the comments section.

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