Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
December 19, 2010 6:25 AM

Has Search Replaced Bookmarking?

Is there really a need for online social bookmarking services anymore?

There's no denying that I'm a fan of Delicious - the online social bookmarking service (I Blogged about my love for Delicious back in 2007, right here: Why Is Becoming My Default Search Engine For Research). I was really sad to hear that Yahoo (who bought the company in 2005) may be ditching the service (more that here: Leaked Slide Shows Yahoo Is Killing Delicious & Other Web Apps and here: Yahoo Claims It's Not Killing Delicious), but not all that surprised.

Search has changed. Bookmarking has changed.

Most people used bookmarking as a way to remember where a piece of content was (or to make it more findable to others). We have to remember a couple of things:

  • Search keeps getting better and better, but there was a time when finding a piece of content took some digging.
  • Content used to come and go. Before the importance of SEO (Search Engine Optimization), it was not uncommon for people/companies to remove content. It was also not uncommon for them to move it (and break the link).
  • We didn't have online social networks like Twitter and Facebook to ask our "friends" questions. We left that up to the search engines, and if we didn't have the right word phrasing, we would often come up empty for our queries.

Do we really need an online social bookmarking platform anymore?

It's a question worth asking. Search has come to a point where if I'm looking for something on this Blog, I tend to use Google for the query and simply add the words "six pixels" to the search string (it's usually better than site search). I'll often ask my connections on Twitter and Facebook if I need something specific (i.e.: "anyone have the latest stats on YouTube's growth?"), beyond that, I save the articles and Blog posts that I don't have time to read on Instapaper (more on that here: Instapaper Is A Must), but that's about it.

If it's always there and online, is there a point in bookmarking it?

Things are findable. There are more people online who share and answer questions. Information is tagged and indexed better. It's rare that you have to go beyond the second page of any major search engine to find anything. Knowing what people are bookmarking and tagging is still interesting, but not that much more interesting than seeing what they are now sharing on Twitter, Facebook and beyond.

Is there still a need for social bookmarking? Has search (and this includes social search) usurped it? What do you think?

By Mitch Joel