Friday, 17 December 2010

End of Delicious?

Many reports are circulating on the Interweb regarding Yahoo's planned closure of several sites, not least of which is Delicious, the social bookmarking site. From being one of the first web 2.0 successes, the site has had many problems over the past few years and some have noted its failure to adapt and evolve to meet changing expectations.

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?

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