If you’re like me, you visit lots of websites, read lots of blogs, watch lots of YouTube videos, listen to lots of audio broadcasts, laugh at lots of online cartoons, and link to lots of links.
Maybe you don’t do what I do. That’s OK. I understand. You can stop reading right now if you want.
Because I’m about to share with you my secret. This is the third part of my “Heroes” series.
It’s a little long… but I’m about to tell you how I organize my life online.
Step 1: Organize your bookmarks
For the better part of 10 years, I bookmarked every website, web page, blog, blog post, video, audio, image, and random link. First with Internet Explorer (well, first with Mosaic, then with Netscape, then with IE) and finally with Firefox, I used my browser’s bookmarks folder to inventory everything.
I created folders for various categories and every time I bookmarked a new site, it went into that folder.
You know what happened?
First, I had so many different categories, so many different folders, and so many different items of content that I never knew where something was when I needed it so more often than not, I looked it up in a search engine!
Second, if I wanted to know how many items in my bookmark folder had the word, “government,” let’s say, in the title, I would have had to run a computer search on that folder.
I can’t believe how unproductive I was.
Then I found Del.icio.us, an online productivity tool that, in the words of founder Joshua Schacter, is a “system for saving bookmarks and finding things that you have found previously, organizing those things, and basically providing a sort of memory for the web.”
I don’t save bookmarks to my computer browser anymore. No, that’s a lie. I have a few bookmarks, but no more than 20 or 30: links to my GMail account, my Twitter and other social networking profiles, some news sites, and that’s about it.
Everything else is on del.icio.us.
I tag each item, such as “government” or “fashion” or “social-media.” There’s no limit (I don’t think there’s a limit) on the number of tags per bookmark. I can also add notes if I want to remember why I bookmarked it or if there’s a particular anchor within the page that is noteworthy.
There is also a del.icio.us social element where I can see how many other people are also tagging bookmarks I tag. And I can click to their profiles to see their bookmarks. I can also search the system for keywords. It’s like a search engine!
(And, yes, you can opt “to not share” certain items.)
Here’s a link to my del.icio.us profile and you can see some screenshots below of both my bookmarks and a tag cloud. You can click on either image to zoom.
Sometimes you don’t want to bookmark a site. You know you’ll never, if ever, return to it. But maybe you found value in its content. Or maybe you’d like to share your discovery of the website or blog with other people and maybe they will find it interesting.
You can join me and 5,851,175 other people and Stumble (Across) It.
StumbleUpon is not a search engine but, in the words of founder Garrett Camp, is a “discovery tool” to tag, rate, and share social media content.
Some people use StumbleUpon to find websites that they’ll never find with a keyword search on Google or Technorati.
I don’t typically discover sites on StumbleUpon but use it to share my knowledge. I write mini 1- or 2-sentence reviews of why I liked it or hated it; but providing positive feedback to other people who may consider visiting the site.
Here’s a link to my StumbleUpon profile and you can click around to see how I and other people use it. And I’ve attached some screenshots below.
Step 3: Digg for Stuff Buried in the Sea of Links
Unlike StumbleUpon, which is used primarily for top-level content such as home pages and index pages, I use Digg to similarly tag, rate, and review links buried inside of a website or blog.
I like lists, for instance. The top 10 this, the top 30 that. Some of those lists I bookmark on del.icio.us, knowing I’ll return to them. But maybe other people would find the content useful, so I digg it.
Maybe “friends” of mine on Digg would find the content useful. Keep in mind that all of the above are social bookmarking tools, so just like on Twitter or Facebook, you can share content among your friends.
Here’s a link to my Digg profile. I’ve attached another screenshot below.
Is this helpful to you?
There are many more social bookmarking tools, but I wanted to share with you what I use.
If you’d like to see other ideas, here is a list of the top 10 tools according to Susan Gunelius at About.com.
For the nerdcore reading this, Danny Dover assembled a neat summary of the above tools in terms of their algorithms for page ranking and rating, if you are interested.
Do you currently use del.icio.us, stumbleupon, or digg to bookmark, rate, tag, and share social media content? How do you use each, if different from the way I do?
If you don’t use anything now, would you like to? Thoughts?
If you think this is useful advice, I’d be appreciative if you share, rate, or tag it, too. You can click the “bookmark” button below to connect to your preferred tool. Thanks!