We used Delicious to list useful web resources on the first ever Arcadia project, science@cambridge. Many libraries in Cambridge and beyond have also done the same, its a great tool. Since then, the potential risk of loosing third party infrastructure like this has often popped up in discussion. Now it may be a reality. (Large portions of our site are also using Pipes. Lets also keep our fingers crossed for that superb service).
Thinking on a wider scale, Delicious, like Wikipedia, StackOverflow and many other online resources full fill some of the functions of a library in the networked world, namely the classification of units of online information. Many people rely on it daily, and much noise has made of its community basis as a real alternative to traditional means of classification.
Now thanks, to a corporate reshuffle, it may just disappear as a result of market conditions. I'm left with on a Friday afternoon with three things to think about:
- Why was the site judged a failure? Is tagging a fad that will fade, whilst traditional classification will somehow endure (this I doubt) ? Is it because its function was better provided by other successor sites, or some other reason?
- If the market cannot sustain these networked library-like services, should libraries (or the non-profit educational sector) start developing services like Delicious? Would we be better placed to provide this vital web infrastructure over a commercial entity? Would it be a better investment than an Institutional Repository?
- Does anyone care now we have Facebook?