There aren’t many tech products I would consider myself dedicated to. I change browsers at least weekly, keep at least one Mac, one Windows machine and one Linux PC around at all times and a two-year cell phone commitment can seem like a prison sentence by month six.
I’m also not the kind of guy who gives glowing reviews, everything is usually tempered with a mix of good and bad, an attempt to find balance and deeper understanding.
But there is at least one service that I am truly grateful for, Diigo.
You see, when most people think of social bookmarking, they think of Delicious due to its popularity. However, for me and my specific needs, Diigo has been a savior, providing a much-needed service that’s simple, reliable and attractive.
If I’m going to rave about any service I use, Diigo would be it and as the U.S. celebrates Thanksgiving, I want to celebrate one of my favorite tech services and how much it has helped me.
Diigo, which is pronounced “dee’go”, is a social bookmarking service similar to Delicious in that it allows you to store your bookmarks on the Web. Using either a browser extension or bookmarklet, you can add links to your Diigo account, tag them and share them with your friends on the service.
But if you’re someone who just needs basic functionality in a bookmarking service, Diigo probably is not for you. Delicious is probably going to be less intimidating to use and has a larger userbase. But it is the features beyond the basic set that really make Diigo stand out.
Specifically, there are two features that really make Diigo special.
- Annotations: Diigo makes it possible to highlight and add notes to any page that you bookmark and choose who to share those notes with. This is very handy for returning to a specific passage in a page or adding notes to your bookmarks for later. Since annotations can be shared, it’s also great for group research projects.
- Lists: As someone who does regular podcasts, Diigo has been a godsend when it comes to creating show notes. It’s lists function allows you to easily create an ordered list of sites, add notes to each article and, as mentioned above, highlight key passages. The lists can be shared easily and even have a “Webslides” feature that allows you to view the pages in order, full screen, saving you from having to open all the links in new tabs.
In short, Diigo is built for capturing, marking up and organizing information, especially in a social environment. For that purpose, it works well and has a feature set I haven’t found elsewhere. It’s been a great find for my podcasting and linkroll work and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
If I had to nitpick the service, I would first note that it can be intimidating to use at first, especially after first installing the Diigo toolbar to find annotations all across most of the more popular sites. Also, with more options come more choices and that can breed confusion. Though Diigo’s bookmark interface isn’t any more complex than Delicious’, the bookmark library can be intimidating with multiple views and tons of options.
Also, Diigo’s tagging system is both weak and inconsistent. Lists, for example, are comma separated tags when you create them but bookmarks themselves are space separated. That, in turn, adds a bit to the confusion and also means that, when trying to tag bookmarks, you’re much more limited, especially when confronted with multi-word tags.
However, the awkward space separated tags is an issue Diigo shares with Delicious and a fairly minor issue in the big scheme of things, especially given the service’s power and features.
Diigo isn’t a bookmarking service that is for everyone. It’s not for those who just want a simple, basic bookmarking system or feel the need to use the most popular site. Though Diigo’s community is nothing to sneeze at, Delicious is still clearly number one in that area.
However, number one doesn’t necessarily mean best, especially for power users who need the advanced features Diigo provides. If you bookmark a lot of links, need to make notes or otherwise want more features in your bookmarking, Diigo is a good place to look.
However, if you’re a big Delicious fan, there isn’t much to lose. Not only can you import your Delicious links into Diigo, but you can tell Diigo to submit your bookmarks to Delicious, keeping the two in sync that way. If you try it and don’t like it, you can switch back without missing a beat.
All in all, Diigo may not change the world, but it certainly can make your bookmarks much more useful. If you do sign up, be sure to add me, especially if you’re interested in copyright-related links.