Jay Shirley

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The Daily Practice

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Revisiting Delicious

Published: 17 Jul 2011

Delicious (or del.icio.us) is a good site. It was a great idea when it came out. I think it still is. I really do like the idea. I always think to myself, “I really should use Delicious more.”

I never do.

I made an effort to revisit Delicious. The thing that prompted me was I went to restart Safari and it said, “You have 5 windows and 83 tabs open.” That made me pause and think. I’m obviously doing something wrong.

I cancel Safari and go through each window. I keep a backlog of work in a lot of the tabs. About 10 or so. Ticket I’m working on now, up next, etc. Then any tabs that support that. Reasonable usage. I can move on.

Then the other 70 tabs are because of interesting things in the world that I’ve found and either want to read later, bookmark because of some impending project or task, or things I just find neat.

In other words, those 70 tabs are the exact reason why Delicious exists. So why can’t I use it?

From an overly eager business-starter point of view I can study myself. What about the Delicious offering isn’t compelling to me? Why is it easier for me to open and maintain 80+ tabs than to use their tool?

First, the features. Everything is compelling. There is no argument I could make that shows the service is lacking. It has everything I would need. This is just me being stubborn, so I can move on from this point.

Now I look at usage. It doesn’t fit my workflow. If it did, I would use it. I have priorities, essentially. Things are attached to specific projects or tasks. This is very important, but I believe I’m an edge case. It’s transient, I think.

What I ultimately need is to develop a workflow using Delicious and stick with it. I think this means clever tagging, really. Nothing that doesn’t exist already. If I tagged things based on what project or task I think it is helpful, I can use the API to then extract all things for that.

Because Delicious is public, I am hesitant to do so. If I have something tagged “Sinclair” that could confuse the tags or have people looking at it for the wrong reasons. I could mark everything private but that also seems silly. I don’t like having to make these decisions. So I don’t and I keep my browser tabs open and add the public stuff to twitter.

That’s the crux of the problem.

Posting to Delicious feels permanent. It feels like I have to be correct. I know it really isn’t. Doesn’t matter. I feel weighty responsibility when publishing something on the internet. It can last forever. I want to link correctly.

So what’s the solution? I think it’s about making the publishing feel temporary. Twitter does well with this. Just framing a question, “What are you doing right now?”

What are you reading right now? If I think of using Delicious this way it becomes much easier to want to use it. Psychology is weird.