The social aspect of bookmarks

This coming week (#2) at Work Literacy we will be discussing social bookmarks. I wrote about the basics of social bookmarks last year in Step 1: Free Your Bookmarks, which discussed how to get your data onto the Web cloud.

I think that social bookmarks and RSS aggregators are the two basic tools for using the Web for personal knowledge management. For those with limited social media experience, I usually suggest these two tools to get the hang of information flows on the web, which can feel like a tidal wave.

Dave Pollard, who is participating in the Connectivism and Connected Knowledge course notes how social media can have a connectivist aspect:

Refocusing Social Tools: Just as Knowledge Management is now shifting focus and attention from collection to connection, social media need to turn their attention to enabling more, more effective, more informed, more valuable conversations. They need to help us identify ‘the right people’ (to live with, make a living with, love, and talk to) and then connect with them in real time in simple yet powerful ways that mimic, as much as possible, face-to-face conversations. They also need to help us make these conversations and meetings and social interactions more effective — bring more clarity and context, reach consensus, enable stories to be told and remembered, capture non-verbal communication, and pick up from where we left off at the end of the last conversation — keeping us connected, all the time, everywhere.

Social bookmarks are but one aspect and one way to keep connected online, and in my experience one of the easiest ways to get started with web social media.

Getting your bookmarks out on the Web where you can easily access and search them definitely can help with personal productivity. It’s just easier to find things. However, it is only after some time when you have a number of pages marked with your tags and comments and when you have connected with other people that you realize that social bookmarks are more than just a heap of personal links. Other people start connecting to your network and they can annotate a link for members of their network. Suddenly, who you know becomes as important as what you know. If someone in your network knows that you’re interested in an area, perhaps they’ll find and mark a reference that you would never have found. Serendipity can happen, but only once you’ve engaged in the social space.

Here is an example of some recommendations from my network:

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