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Using del.icio.us In Education

Using del.icio.us In Education



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Published by Gabriela Grosseck
This paper was published in INFOMEDIA, The International Journal of Informatics and New media in education,

9 december 2008
This paper was published in INFOMEDIA, The International Journal of Informatics and New media in education,

9 december 2008

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Published by: Gabriela Grosseck on Jul 28, 2007
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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By Gabriela Grossec
Surfing the net, which is more and more complex, has become one of the mainobstacles in efficiently using the network. This is mostly due to the disorganized nature of the Internet, in collections of sites and documents whose quick and exponential growth rate leadsto difficulties users have to face in order to find their way out of the online informational maze. There are two possibilities of coping with this complexity: either the structure of the Internet is reorganized, or every user is offered the ability of systemizing an individual  perspective of the network. Although the first option would probably bring more benefits on a global level, the second is easier to achieve and has immediate advantages for the individual user or for a group of users.” These lines can be found in a paper from September 1994, published by Michigan State University.
Almost a decade passed until the dream of the American University teachers materialized in the emergence
of a revolutionary way toorganize the informational content available online, according to individual needs and interests, offered by social bookmarking applications. This paper will attempt to offer a first  structure and a first frame for using del.icio.us the one of the most used instruments of social bookmarking in the recent history of the Internet - in education. Before starting to structure the observations regarding the educational opportunitiesof the most popular social bookmarking application, we have to make a few remarks. Firstly, “bookmark” literally means “something you put between the pages of a book  so that you can find that page again quickly”. As far as del.icio.us is concerned, “bookmark”means favourite (preferred/of interest) link (site/resource). Because it’s a lot easier to identifyit in its original form I shall use it as such.Secondly, from a technical point of view, all references made in the article hold true for the FireFox v2.0 browser and its extensions (of course there are alternatives, like IE or Opera for example, but I prefer Mozilla’s browser because it is “faster, more reliable, and totally customizable to your online life”
 ). And thirdly, because the space allotted to the article is limited, I have chosen toinclude a minimum number of figures / screen captures.
Robin Good,
 A Delicious Way to Personalize the Web
It is believed that the era of the social web began with the launch of del.icio.us on September 15, 2003.
It is generally believed that a
is a copy of the URL of the computer onwhich we work (in the folder Bookmarks/Favorites of the browser), and that it designates avirtual place where resources of any type (web pages, media files, or any other online entity)can be later accessed/downloaded.
Social bookmarking
is an online means of storing,classifying, localizing and sharing these Internet resources, according to individual needs andinterests
. There are numerous applications which follow the social bookmarking path, bothfor links (furl, ma.gnolia, diigo), academic articles (connotea, citeULike), and for blog posts(technorati), images (flickr), news (digg), maps (Frapper, Wikimapia) or for annotating audio(odeo) and video podcasts (youtube) etc. However,
has become very popular (especially with non-technical users) because it represents a simple way of identifying,organizing, classifying and sharing sites. In addition, it is free and can be accessed anywherein the world where there is an Internet connection based on an account which requires only basic information to be created (user name, password, and email).
(http://del.icio.us) is a free Internet social bookmarking service, a specialsoftware for identifying, organizing, storing, finding, classifying and, at the same time,sharing favourite web resources, not only among browsers and work places, but also among people. The site appeared at the end of 2003 and now belongs to Yahoo (but any Internet user can still resort to the system).In 2001, Joshua Schachter, the wall Street analyst (considered the youngest innovator of the year 2006 by the Technology Review magazine) realized he had a big problem with hisonline resource collection, initiated at the beginning of 1990 and called MemePool, because itcomprised 20.000 items. So, he designed a small MuxWay application which allowed him toclassify links by attributing short tags to resources. Soon after, a thousand users had alreadyvisited his site, which determined Schachter to consider developing the application in the bestinterests of Internet users. Thus, in December 2003, MuxWay was replaced by del.icio.us, oneof the few services which managed to metamorphose the information on the Web: from amere collector of links, del.icio.us turned into a resource organizer.The name of the application was chosen to underline the need for using a simple andefficient instrument to organize web pages, but also its American identity (the last two letters.
stand for the first rank Internet field, just like we have .
).Since Yahoo bought it in 2005 (for approximately 30 million dollars, according torumours in the press at the time), the number of users has rapidly increased. For example,only between January and July 2006 (according to HitWise), the traffic increased by 122%(but it had a slight decrease in the following period). Without any publicity the site reached, inSeptember 2006, a million users
(according to statistics on the del.icio.us blog
). Thus, onlythree years after it appeared in the virtual space, del.icio.us managed to convince users of theadvantages of being included in such a community. Recent data (June 2007)
show thatdel.icio.us occupies the fourth position in the top 25 most visited social bookmarking sites.
Lists of social bookmarking applications/services can be accessed at Listio, eConsultant, or 3Spot.
Other companies which monitor Web traffic show approximately the same number. See statistics from:Compete (http://snapshot.compete.com/del.icio.us): 973,908 visitors per month (USA), Rank: 1,930; Quantcast(http://quantcast.com/del.icio.us
): 1,100,000 visitors per month (USA), Rank: 1,342 or Alexa(http://www.alexa.com/browse?&CategoryID=5305). Those who are interested in real time traffic can follow thedel.icio.us statistics at http://deli.ckoma.net/stats.
Top 25 Largest Social Bookmarking Sites
, 6/09/2007, http://www.ebizmba.com/articles/social- bookmarking.html.
But, perhaps the most interesting aspect is represented by its demographic profile.Studies carried out in 2006 by LeeAnn Prescott
and Trevino showed that most users weremale (59%), 30 years-old on average, having high incomes, coming from urban areas or suburbs
, tending to have higher education and to be familiar with technology from a youngage. As the site’s inventor himself stated, the great majority of del.icio.us users are bloggers, programmers, educational actors (teachers, librarians), persons interested in constantlydiscovering interesting sites and in showing them to others too.
The del.icio.us homepage gives an overview of the current resources (
tagsto watch
), and this constitutes the starting point for browsing through the most popular/recent posted links. To view one’s own collection of resources (after signing in), one has to click on
 your bookmarks
”, in the top left corner. The fundamental unit of del.icio.us is the post.
Fig 1 The del.icio.us interface for my account
(screen capture, 20 July 2007,http://del.icio.us/ggrosseck 
Let’s see some of this system’s facilities:
1. Creating one’s own collection
of web resources, classified according to key words(
), in an unstructured or freely structured manner. The common user thus has the possibility of creating an extraordinary online content library. When adding a resource (Figure2), we specify the URL, its description, (
), personal observations (optional,
-maximum 255 characters),
- one or several, space separated. The resource can be publicor private (the option
do not share
was introduced experimentally on March 19, 2006
).The procedure of recording the resource being loaded in the browser is facilitated bythe configuration of the tool bar, namely by the bookmarklet “
 Bookmark This Page
”. In thisway, the URL fields and the site’s title/description are automatically filled in the additionform. This form is based on Ajax and, when we fill in the tags, it lists some
 Recommended Tags
, which are tags used by other users when they bookmarked the respective resource.Moreover, if we click on any of these they will appear in the tag field. Similarly, if we start to
 Del.icio.us Traffic More Than Doubled Since January
, August 10, 2006.
Trevino estimated 43% outside the USA.

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