Diigo revisited

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I wrote about Diigo, the social annotation and bookmarking service, a while ago. Back then I was already quite taken with the service, and today I’m even more so. Why’s that? Well, they’ve rolled out a huge number of new features, some of which I never even thought about before, but which, when you’re able to use them, you don’t ever want to miss again.

I take it you’re already familiar with the basic premise of the service, which is to provide the ability to not only bookmark, but also add highlights and sticky notes to selected parts of text. Which comes in very handy when you want to remember why you found something interesting or worthwhile. Now, here’s one of the new features: You can extract highlights from a site you’ve bookmarked. I for example just used Diigo to select all the classes I was going to enroll in this semester in school. The university provides one large website with all the available classes, and simply bookmarking it wouldn’t have done any good. So I highlighted the classes with Diigo and then extracted them. Extracted highlights are displayed as a list and are immediately printable. And if you’ve got one, two, three or any number of highlights from different sources, you can extract them onto the very same page as simply as ticking a box. With this, Diigo has made copy and past a thing of the past (or, to comply with current buzz-word regulations, copy and past is so web 1.0).

Another improvement is their new bookmarklet. Up until now, you were well advised to use the Diigo toolbar, which is really packed with functionality. Now you can also use their bookmarklet (if, for example, you’re not allowed to install the toolbar), which is actually a superbookmarklet, or as the Diigo people have dubbed it, a “Diigolet”. The silly name aside, this thing really is quite a step above your usual bookmarklet. Tagging and highlighting work just as they do when using the toolbar, and sticky notes pop up even better looking than when using the toolbar. Quite frankly, I’d have never thought I’d be impressed by a bookmarklet, but alas, here I am, thoroughly impressed.

Speaking of better looking, there are some inconsistencies in the design of the Diigo website. It is intuitive enough, don’t get me wrong, but there are a few things here and there which need to be polished. Which is just natural, considering the sheer number of new features they keep rolling out. Quite obviously they are more concerned with the stuff that’s under the hood than with a shiny exterior. Interestingly enough, there are companies out there which quite sucessfully do it the other way around, for example Ma.gnolia. Ma.gnolia has a very nice, very well devised layout, but they don’t provide half as much functionality as Diigo does. Which is okay, considering that their approach to social bookmarking is quite different from Diigo’s.

Finally, there are a few things the new version of Diigo provides I haven’t been able to test yet, but which promise to be quite exciting. For example the blogging feature. With a separate “blog this” button in the toolbar (implemented also in their automatic menu popping up when selecting text on a page), it’s possible to add selected text to a blog entry. Which sounds nice in theory, but right now it only supports WordPress.com and Blogger blogs, and I guess they’ll need to add a few more platforms and blogging scripts in order to make this thing useful.

One last thing which I’m quite happy about: in my last posting on Diigo I mentioned the “add to delicious” feature. Well, you can now add bookmarks not only to delicious, but also to many other popular bookmarking services. In earlier versions of the toolbar, this feature wasn’t exactly well implemented, but they’ve really worked on it and it works very painlessly now.

Diigo is still in invitation-only beta, but I guess that’s the very reason why they’re able to improve the service at such a rapid pace.


Reading Time: 2 minutes

I just got my invitation (I’ll quit writing about “invites”, it just isn’t a noun) to a beta account for Ma.gnolia. What does Ma.gnolia do? Well, it of course does social bookmarking, which is why I’ve titled my post that way (in case you didn’t grow up in a country where acronyms like ICBIY are standard, YABS simply means “Yet Another Bookmarking Service”. Yes, I am funny like that, and I’ll be here all week).

Now, what makes Ma.gnolia so different from all the other bookmarking services out there? First of all, it’s really pretty. Seriously, not only is the name pretty, it also features an insanely smooth drawing of a flower (which I sort of feel must be a Magnolia. Don’t ask why, it’s just a hunch) as its banner.

As to the functionality of it all, well, can’t say much right now, as they are still working on importing my bookmarks. But there are a few things there which look like I’ve seen them in other services, like the omnipresent tag cloud, a groups functionality, contacts, messages and a few other things.

They are also trying to make a move from del.icio.us to Ma.gnolia as painless as possible, as they are offering a GreaseMonkey script which lets you add bookmarks to Ma.gnolia from within del.icio.us. Which is really pretty of them. And yes, I really should keep away from 1920s literature for a bit. Using the word pretty twice in one posting is simply wrong.

I’ll keep you updated on further developments in bookmarking land.

Update: Bookmarks are imported. Looks very nice. Smooth use of AJAX, a bit slow. Bad tag management. Either that or unintuitive UI, because for the life of me, I can’t find the button that lets you delete tags.

Bookmark with all

Reading Time: 1 minutes

After reading about (and setting up accounts in) various new and old social and asocial bookmarking services, I’ve now reached the point where I need some new service which will allow me to bookmark sites in all of the services simultaneously. Right now all these services are more or less the same, but I’m expecting that sometime sooner or later one or two of them will take off. When that happens, I want my bookmarks snug in these services.

The Diigo people obviously know about that dilemma, because they’ve already added the option of bookmarking sites in del.icio.us as well. But I need more! I want a bookmarklet which will simultaneously add a site to Blinklist, Furl, Delicious, Simpy and Shadows. And on request to Looklater, in case I want that bookmark to be asocial. In addition to simply adding it, the bookmarklet should be able to add the tags correctly to each respective service and, where possible, add highlighted text as a description.


“Birds of a feather…

Reading Time: 2 minutes

flock together.”

As you may have guessed from my rather slick introduction, I just discovered Flock, the newest in cool Firefox-altered technology.

It’s basically a slick, modded, Web 2.0 compatible version of the ever so popular Mozilla Firefox browser. Of course, it’s still very much in Beta (Alpha even?), but apart from a few quirks (like not being able to import my Firefox bookmarks), it seems fairly stable.

Now, I’m very fond of software coming from the corner of 37 Signals, WordPress, etc., and Flock seems to be quite attached to WordPress. So much even, that once you’ve installed Flock, you can sign up for WordPress.com, the hosted WordPress service which until now you needed an invite for. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that although I really like how usability and cool are now together at last, I’m still quite uneasy about the whole social software thing. You see, Flock is based on the premise that everyone’s Internet experience would be a whole lot better if they shared their bookmarks via delicious. Now, I do know that it’s not necessary to do that. Flock lets you decide if and what and with whom you’ll share. Still, and I think I wrote about that already a few months back (yep, I definitely did…here’s the post), I am a bit wary when it comes to the whole thing called Web 2.0.

I think it’s great that services like Flickr and del.icio.us and by now countless others offer the ability to share whatever you deem shareable with everyone on the web. But, and I won’t tire emphasizing on that over and over again, I don’t like the idea of storing my photos or bookmarks on some server somewhere in the world. I also don’t like the idea that full disclosure of my bookmarks, is just one (accidental) click away. I think del.icio.us is a great Zeitgeist tool, but I don’t think it should be used as a replacement for local bookmarking.

By the way, I wrote that entry via the ultra-slick, integrated-into-toolbar blogging tool provided by Flock, and I guess once they’ve worked out its kinks, I’m going to use it a lot more often.