I understand the rumours are still quite strong that Yahoo wants to get rid of the collaborative bookmarking tool Delicious. Frankly, after experimenting with it in about 2005, I stopped using it. I had problems with plug-ins on various browsers. It had a cutsy URL in those days which I couldn't remember. It probably wasn't the Delicious extension that kept crashing my browser, but when I got rid of a lot of them, out it went too.
Since then I have been looking for three things:
- a method to keep and sort stuff I find on the web in a logical way, especially related videos.
- a method to share those collections with others and share bits of it with others who subscribe to an alert service I run for clients.
- a method to dynamically display the results, so that any updates are also reflected. That's the problem with blogs. Once you have snagged a copy of an Excel sheet or graph and put it into a blog, it's frozen.
I stumbled upon what could be the answer in Paris by a French start-up called Pearltrees.com. You first need to sign-up and sign-in, set up a free account and a simple profile. Then install extensions into your favourite browsers. Then, as you surf the web, you can bookmark your discoveries and send the links automatically to Pearltrees. Each website is a pearl and each pearl can be dragged and dropped into what I call an "interest tree". It's more like a virtual biscuit tin when you can store goodies, but also make very clear connections between the pearls rather like Mindmapping.
What struck me was the clever way in which you can then share this with other Pearltrees users. If someone else is working on a dossier about "community radio stations in Ghana", I can invite that person to collaborate on a document. That person does have the rights to change (and potentially destroy) the document rather like Wikipedia. But because you have only granted them access to that bit of your network, it is a great way to collaborate and build trust. I've found quite a few journalists and entrepreneurs working with Pearltrees - basically taking it for a ride to see what it can do.
You can also publish your trees and then embed them into a blog. Whenever you go to that entry, the website grabs the latest version of the pearltree.
Downsides? Not many. But you need to remember that what you're storing are links, not actual content. So if someone posts something like a video or a document which you capture as a pearl, it will disappear if that document/video ever goes off line. For that reason I am experimenting with downloading documents to my dropbox and then posting stuff from there.
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