In recent weeks, I've become increasingly enamored of the social network and bookmarking service known as del.icio.us. I set an account up nearly 2 years ago now, but largely used it as online bookmark storage. Gradually, through several friends (online and off) I became aware of its other features. Caleb McDaniel (formerly of Mode for Caleb) demonstrated the numerous tagging capabilities through a couple of emails and conversations. [Looking at my own del.icio.us account (del.icio.us/kurastan90) you can see that my earliest del.icio.us links are not tagged, or if they are, the tags were added later.] Yet, even with the new tagging making my bookmarks more accessible to me, I was still using it as an amped-up version of my own bookmarks in IE or Firefox. It was Martha who alerted me to the use of a network and "for:" tags in del.icio.us in this post. [For the uninitiated, del.icio.us allows users to add other users to their network, allowing you to see the sites they're tagging. The "for:" tag allows you to send particular users in your network particular sites in which you think they may be interested.] I began to add various people to my network (first DTLT members, then people from CHNM, and soon others) and realized how many cool sites I had been missing. As I pored over their various sites, I began to mark particular sites for them, and slowly they began to tag them for me as well.
I have managed to convert other colleagues to del.icio.us, and they too have become addicted to the ease, the social bookmarking, the tagging, and the sharing of good sites. At this point, if I run across a link I that I think someone might want, and that person is not in my network, I'm actually a little annoyed. I think about how much easier it would be if I could just add the "for:" tag and they would be able to see it.
I realized recently that I have created a network of people I know (to varying degrees) who scour the internet for me (and I for them). Although we have overlapping interests and therefore look at some of the same sites, we're different enough that they run across resources I don't and vice versa. In this chaotic, information-saturated online world, having a few (or 14) expert researchers sharing the best (or maybe just fun) resources can prove an incredible boon.
Now, to figure out how to add this to my goals for digital literacy and to my classes this fall. More to come....