socialseries Web 2.0

2. is social bookmarking done right. I remember when online bookmark services first started appearing, solving the problem of people bookmarking a site on their home computer that they may need the next day on their work computer. I tried them out and found some of them to be fairly useful – then came Not only does allow you to save URLs for later use, it also allows you to find URLs that others have found useful, suggest URLs for others and pick up feeds of either specific people, specific topics or general “top picks”. This is what makes it social.
The San Mateo Library’s account is a perfect example of an organization using the tools to create a very useful resource. They organize their saved URLs into the Dewey Decimal System (most of them, at least) with a few un-Dewey’d links tagged as “ready reference” or “book” or other not-quite-easily-stuffed-into-Dewey labels. That is one way to use the structure that provides.
Another way is to create useful links for patrons, like we have at MRRL’s account and make them available on our site as “reference links”. All of our links are ready reference-type links! I used a javascript library called “Dishy” to make pulling our links from easy on our Reference Links page. Because of the API (Application Programming Interface) that (and many other Web 2.0 tools) provides, creating new uses for your data becomes fairly easy. Dishy proved to be pretty much cut-and-paste functionality, allowing me to concentrate on the looks of the page, rather than the way it works – but if you really want to spend some time getting into the API, you can roll your own program that does exactly what you want. There are other ways to access your data through, though, including RSS, JSON and plain old HTML.
Once you put your data into (easy enough with the browser buttons they offer for both IE and Firefox), the options you have to reuse it are pretty much limitless!
I’ve covered the what people do with and pointed you to some resources for how, so now we’ll get a little deeper into “why”. Like most Web 2.0 tools, gives you the opportunity to save your data and then reuse it multiple ways. The API I mentioned above gives you control over your data – you put it in once and then use it in multiple ways (reference links, RSS feed of the latest “finds” from your library, in a Google Maps mashup with geographically important links, etc., etc., etc.) in multiple formats. It’s not only a great way to keep yourself organized at multiple computers, it’s also a great way to share the collective wisdom of your library and librarians with your patrons – it’s one more service you can offer your patrons to improve the quality of information they find on the Internet.

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