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Social bookmarking: save bookmarks online

Employees in companies often research information and documents that are relevant to their work and decisions as a source of knowledge or learning. The Internet, with its diverse information available in digital form, is becoming increasingly important as a source for research.

It is often the case that the researching employee does not document which sources he searched and used to make his decision. This documentation is usually complex and has no direct benefit for the employee. This becomes a disadvantage as soon as he or a colleague is faced with a similar research task. Then it is often said "I saw something very interesting there, but I have to look for it first."

Social bookmarking describes a simple method with which research on the Internet can be documented, the results saved and made accessible to colleagues.

What is social bookmarking?

The creation of bookmarks in the web browser is an established method for documenting websites that are accessed frequently by a user. Every browser offers a function for saving bookmarks. A single bookmark then saves the URL of the website, has a title and keywords can also be assigned. The bookmarks can also be stored in a structured manner in folders.

If these individual bookmarks are made available to other users, for example colleagues in the department, via the Internet, this is known as social bookmarking. For this purpose, the bookmark is stored on a server on the Internet using a specialized web application, a social bookmarking service. Other users can now see which users are using which bookmarks. The users can also jointly organize and annotate the bookmarks in folders. In this way, the results of research on the Internet can be documented and passed on. All phases within the typical research process, with the exception of research planning, are supported by social bookmarking services.

Uses and advantages of social bookmarking

Saving the bookmarks by means of a social bookmarking service already offers the advantage for a single user that they can access their bookmarks from any computer they use. Web browsers, on the other hand, usually only save bookmarks on the computer on which they are created and are therefore tied to a computer or other device such as a tablet or smartphone.

The basic advantage in a user group is that the bookmarks created by one user can be viewed and used by other users. An employee can see which research results his / her colleague has used and can thus accelerate their own research.

In addition to saving bookmarks on the Internet, social bookmarking services offer various other functions. In this way, the Internet sources can be tagged and described, and sometimes also rated. Keywords and descriptions are used to search for bookmarks. For example, if an employee uses their research task as a keyword, the colleague will very quickly find all the sources assigned to this keyword and can add their own terms.

As with the use of browser functions to save bookmarks, bookmarks created using social bookmarking services can also be stored in structured folders. Some services also offer options for annotating sources, for example using a virtual highlighter or a note function. Access rights to bookmarks are released or restricted via group management.

How do I use social bookmarking services?

Using social bookmarking services is easy. First of all, a user ID and password are required for such a service; you get this when you log in to the web interface.

Social bookmarking services then offer a so-called plug-in for the most common browsers. The plug-in consists of an additional button in the browser's menu bar that can be used to bookmark a currently displayed website. A title, keywords or a description of the website can then be entered via a screen dialog. The bookmark is then saved and can be used by colleagues.

A plug-in can be installed and activated in the browser in just a few steps; IT knowledge is not required for this. The plugin then also saves the user ID and password so that they do not have to be entered multiple times.

Examples of social bookmarking services

There are a number of social bookmarking services on the Internet. Most offer English-language or multilingual user interfaces, but there are also a few German-speaking providers.

Many providers offer the opportunity to test the service free of charge with a lower range of functions. In this way you can quickly and easily get an impression of social bookmarking yourself. Diigo, for example, offers a wide range of functions. Diigo is free of charge in the basic version, but displays ads. Various paid usage models offer more storage space. One of the very first bookmarking services was delicious, which is now purely ad-financed.

As an alternative to using a social bookmarking service provided by a provider on the Internet, a corresponding application can also be implemented by the company itself, e.g. in the company's internal intranet.

Various so-called content management systems for creating websites now offer extensions for social bookmarking services. Even more comprehensive software solutions for company-oriented social software offer the possibility of social bookmarks in their range of functions.