The oldest bookmark that I have is dated Oct. 31, 2001. Apparently, when most normal people are getting ready for trick-or-treat or Halloween parties, I was at my desk saving a link to NTIS.gov.
I don’t remember which bookmarking tool I was using in 2001, but I was an early adopter and have grown into a longtime practitioner of cloud-based link saving. Though the internet was still in its infancy, I realized very early on that local bookmarks via Mozilla or IE were not optimal for my level of link hoarding. In 2000 I changed jobs and lost access to my glorious collection of links stored on that employers’ computer. I would change jobs again in 2002, but that time I did not suffer the same fate of bookmark casualties. Another reason for using cloud-based bookmarks is imminent re-imaging of your computer. How many times has your work computer crashed, thus requiring a full system re-imaging? When that happens, your local bookmarks are always lost.
The now defunct Del.icio.us was my all-time favorite bookmarking tool. I started using Delicious sometime in 2004 when it was still independently owned. It maintained a very minimalistic appearance. Light on the graphics and formatting, but very reliable and responsive. When Delicious was launched, the company boasted the ability to use tags for the discovery of new websites. They called this, “social bookmarking,” and it was a great way to see what other Delicious users were saving. As a research and discovery tool, it was golden. Most often than not, users used an alias as their usernames. Even if you didn’t know their true identities, you could tell like-minded users by their collection of links and tags. Delicious was acquired by Yahoo! in 2005. Much of the functionality remained unchanged while Yahoo! improved some of the “look and feel” of the site. In 2011, Yahoo! sold Delicious to AVOS Systems and things continued to be OK, despite the introduction of advertisements. In May 2014 AVOS sold the site to Science Inc. and that is when things started to deteriorate. They added more intrusive ads, clunky graphics that slowed down the reliability and eventually forced many users to find alternatives.
It was at this time that I exported my bookmarks from Delicious and moved to Google Bookmarks. For most intents and purposes, Google Bookmarks does It was at this time that I exported my bookmarks from Delicious and moved to Google Bookmarks. For most intents and purposes, Google Bookmarks does the job. It allows me to feed my hunger for link hoarding. It provides easy access to my bookmarks. The functionality is adequate. Google uses a bookmarklet that lives on your Chrome bookmark bar and allows for easy saving of new links. Google imported the tags from Delicious, so my homegrown taxonomy remained intact. The one feature that I have missed the most is the ability to find new resources via social bookmarking. All in all, I have found Google Bookmarks to be a workable solution. Until I was presented with this banner. And yet again, I was forced to find a new home for my bookmarks.
After spending entirely too much time reading articles and tweets to get up to speed on the current state of online bookmarks, I have decided to move my collection over to Pinboard. While researching the many Google alternatives, I came across a few articles that mentioned Pinboard and what caught my attention was its resemblance to Delicious. It is bare bones in a good way. I love bells and whistles and shiny apps as much as the next person, but when it comes to my online bookmarking workflow, I need simplicity and reliability above all else. After jumping ship from Delicious in 2014 I never looked back to see if anyone ever salvaged its framework from the internet junkyard. It turns out, Pinboard acquired Delicious in 2017. I don’t know to what extent Pinboard has resuscitated the old Delicious technology, but I imagine they have implemented much of it.
I exported my Google bookmarks earlier this week and imported them into Pinboard. Pinboard is not a free service like most other online bookmarking apps. Subscriptions start at $22/year. I am happy to pay it, if that ensures some level of continuity and helps to keep the service alive. It plays well with my Firm’s firewall, which is a big plus.
Without getting too sales pitchy, here are some of my favorite Pinboard features:
- Speed. As previously mentioned, Pinboard is lightning fast.
- Read Later. Sometimes you want to save a page for later without going through the process of saving it for long term use. Read Later is a great solution for saving things on the fly. You can later edit the link, making it a permanent bookmark if you so desire.
- Tag cloud. I haven’t seen a good tag cloud since I deleted my old Delicious account.
- Social bookmarking! With Pinboard I can once again peruse public bookmarks that match my tags to discover new resources. According to Pinboard, about half of the saved bookmarks on its service are public. You can build a network and follow other like-minded bookmark collectors.
If you are currently one of those Google bookmark users desperately looking for an alternative, give Pinboard some consideration.
Notes Between Us (NBU) is a blog about conversations and topics of interest to the writers. The writers are expressing their personal opinions solely. Their essays represent their personal beliefs and not that of their workplaces or any organization they are associated with.