Bookmarks have been around since the earliest browsers. With years I’ve accumulated thousands of them, and I’ve heard of similar numbers from other people. As it grows, it becomes obvious some organization is needed.
The organization scheme that comes naturally, at first, is folders. Those have been there since the early beginnings with Adam and Eve when the Web was young and domain names were aplenty in the tree of TLDs. That’s what I relied on for about six thousand years, and it became a huge mess. I still have old folders from my antique “classification system” I never look at anymore except for quick-and-easy nostalgia.
Tags and multiple axis for classification
So it quickly becomes obvious more axis are needed to classify. The most self-evident case is when doing a project: you’ll quickly accumulate a bunch of links which are contextually related because of the project, but otherwise would end up in different categories.
For example, if you’re creating a web site on video games, you accumulate links on, say, Nintendo, HTML, marketing and Ramen noodles, but in the Grand Scheme of Things (ie. Dewey classification, or some directory like dmoz.org), these are not usually put together.
So you end up trying to set up some keyword/tag system, hack together for 20 hours some frail Firefox extension, and then Firefox 3 comes along and does it for you anyway. The end result is you can create a tag for your project, yet also tag with proper general categories.
With a personal wiki
But in my experience that still doesn’t work, based on the fact that I never look at the bookmarks again, except when I have a very precise idea of what I’m looking for. And then there’s Google anyway.
In fact, currently, I only use local bookmarks for
- Transition until I put them in my wiki;
- pages and sites I use all the time, so I need quick access (online tools etc.).
Why is it that my old bookmarks were still condemned to live unfullfillingly in the dark for eons? There are many reasons, but the main one, for me, was that bookmarks don’t offer any formatting options and their context is not rich enough, even with tags or folders.
When you write a blog post or wiki entry, you can use context, explanations, and the links make sense. They’re part of the text, and when you look back at the entry, you don’t just see a list of equally-created bookmarks, but each has its place and the content you summarize, the description you make create a whole, and of course it’s text so you can have sections, bullet points, images and whatnot.
So my current system is one where I put my bookmarks in wiki entries related to their topic, with some summary explaining why it’s there and what I extracted from it, if I read it. If I need more axis, I’ve developed a WikidPad extension to tag a part of a page.
It seems to work: I reuse the links much more often, and it actually creates value for me as the content slowly grows with the links and knowledge instead of just being an anonymous bunch of pointers.
Of course it requires a bit more work for each link, but in the end if you’re not willing to spend 30 seconds writing a quick note, perhaps it wasn’t worth bookmarking anyway.