Social bookmarking

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1 Definitions

  • According to the Longman Dictionary of contemporary English, bookmarking means "to save the address of a page on the Internet so that you can find it again easily".
  • According to http://www.educause.edu/, social bookmarking is "the practise of saving bookmarks to a public Web site and 'tagging' them with keywords".
  • According to Wikipedia, Social bookmarking is a web based service, where shared lists of user-created Internet bookmarks are displayed.

Social bookmarking sites are an increasingly popular way to locate, classify, rank, and share Internet resources through the practice of tagging and inferences drawn from grouping and analysis of tags.

2 Introduction

A social bookmarking site is a website that allows you to store bookmarks on a remote server by associating tags of your own choice with them and designing individual bookmarks as public or private. All you need to do to set up your social bookmarks is register with a social bookmarking site.


Social bookmarking is particularly useful when collecting a certain number of resources that are to be shared with others, but it is extremely useful also if you want those resources to be available when you're not using your own computer. Visitors to social bookmarking sites can search for the resources they need by keywords, author of the list or popularity.


Tools like social bookmarking websites give users the possibility to express, and especially to share, different perspectives on information and resources stored according to folksonomies, which are categories created by common people, as opposed to taxonomies, which are categories created by experts.

3 Different forms of social bookmarking

There are several forms of shared (or social) bookmarking:

  1. Social bookmarking is a kind of social software that can be associated with Web 2.0 and that uses some kind of folksonomic tagging system.
  1. Links managers (e.g. directories like DMOZ) are social softwares associated with pre-web 2.0. The taxonomy is made by the system administrators and users just add links. Of course, one could imagine that users were also given permission to add categories.
  1. There are some more individual bookmarking tools that allow some form of sharing or exporting.
  1. Specialized tools exist for very specific kinds of links.
  1. Combined tools, e.g. that allow note taking, share digitial artifacts like web publications, etc.

4 Social bookmarking vs. Links managers

  • Social bookmarking is faster, but messier
  • Links managers are more organized, but suffer from hierarchical browsing. Better sites like DMOZ or Yahoo provide at least aliases that allow to put subcategories within several categories. This is not the case with simple systems, e.g. the links manager of PostNuke.

In educational websites, it is probably best to use link managers:

  • if you wish to to provide clear and stable links hierarchy
  • if you have to order resources for well defined subject areas
  • if most entries are teacher made (who carefully selects them)

It is probably a better idea to use folksonomies:

  • if you ask students to collect loads of links
  • if you have a hard time figuring out where to "put things".

A compromise is to agree on a set of terms (e.g. on a wiki page)

See also: the discussion in tagging.

5 Educational Usage

Social bookmarking software like del.icio.us can be used by students to create shared repositories of knowledge. Tagging information resources with keywords has the potential to change how we store and find information.

Through Social bookmarking you can not only discover online materials but also tag and above all share your resources with everybody on the Net. These websites can be used to search for whatever you are interested in, even language learning, by searching for tags that describe the kind of online materials you are looking for. You search, you tag, you share.


A social bookmarking software is not a search engine. Indeed there’s no interaction when you use e.g. Google or Yahoo because they just give you a list of resources selected by the server. On the other hand, through social bookmarking sites such as del.icio.us you find materials that are marked by other people not by a machine; for this reason they might be more significant and meaningful.

When you are surfing on the Internet and find websites you consider interesting you can create your own group of websites by tagging them. By putting a tag you mark not only a web resource for yourself but make it traceable because every user who is looking for e.g. learning might the sites you've found it by typing one of the tags you've used. Indeed you should use some different words as tags to help others find the useful sites you've found and not only one single tag. In this way social bookmarking "becomes social" because it is not something that involves only one single person for themselves but many individuals as a whole, as a community.

Social bookmarking offers another big advantage to all users: making the distribution of reference lists, bibliographies, papers and other resources simpler.

It is clear that you can use social bookmarking for several different purposes and it depends on what you are interested in. Concerning educational aims it is obviously a very useful tool for finding new interesting websites but it also allows students to share the materials they have found with their classmates by creating their own network. For example English language students can benefit from it because by typing tags such as English as second language (ESL), language learning and so on students may discover meaningful materials that might contribute to their learning.

However, there are some negative aspects to such tag-based systems as well. As highlited in Wikipedia, there is no standard set of keywords nor of the structure of tags (e.g. singular vs. plural, capitalization, etc.), tags that can have more than one meaning and no mechanism for users to indicate hierarchical relationships between tags (e.g. a site might be tagged with both the words 'oak' and 'tree', with no mechanism that indicates that 'oak' is a sub-class of 'tree').


6 Personal Experiences

I. Basso first experienced social bookmarking during har last year at University. It was thanks to har English teacher who wanted her students test this original and useful way of shring resources. The website the students used to store their favourite websites is Del.icio.us.

Delicious is a really useful and easy to use web site which can help you when you're serching something in the Net, you only need to insert a tag word and it will appear a long list of website on that topic selected by other people and also by yourself if you had done it before!

It is particularly useful when collecting a certain number of resources that are to be shared with others, like in the case of a class. It is extremely useful also if you want those resources to be available when you're not using your own computer, for example it would be perfec for a student who sometimes uses his own pc and some other times uses the school computers.

7 Examples

  • Del.icio.us (Wikipedia entry) is today's most popular web 2.0 / social bookmarking site.
  • addthis is a service that allows content producers to add a button on their page and which will then allow users to bookmark with the most popular bookmarking services.
  • DMoz is the best Yahoo-like directory project.

8 Links

9 References

Références