Posted by Bill Ferriter on Saturday, 11/01/2014
In a world where anytime/anywhere access to information can be nothing short of overwhelming, tools that help us to sift and sort our way through content that matters -- including the sites that we bookmark and want to return to later -- are essential.
For the better part of the past five years, Diigo has been my go-to bookmarking tool for about a thousand reasons. Perhaps most importantly, Diigo allows me to easily catalog and search my bookmark collection by tags. That makes finding sites that I know that I've bookmarked as simple as searching by the terms and tags that I use the most frequently.
Diigo has become such an integral part of the way that I manage and organize information that I literally FORGOT how to bookmark sites in more traditional ways through web browsers.
That may be changing, though, with Google's release of a new bookmarking extension for Chrome, their increasingly popular web browser.
The extension does everything that you would expect a bookmarking tool to do. Adding new bookmarks is a one-click process that starts from a star icon in the address bar of the site that you are visiting; bookmarks are automatically synced across computers after you sign in to Chrome; and bookmarks can be sorted into user-generated folders.
There are three things that make the extension different, though:
Folders can be shared publicly: I'm passionate about the notion that users of digital tools should give back by creating content that is useful to others -- and curated collections of weblinks on specific topics are always useful. The challenge, however, has been that creating, managing and sharing those collections can be hard to do.
That's not the case with Google's new bookmarking extension. With one click -- think of the process used to make files in Google Drive public -- entire folders in your bookmark collection can be made public. Users can also add annotated summaries to individual links in their collection. Together, this makes it possible for users of Google's new bookmark extension to easily share what they are learning about any topic.
This functionality rivals the beautiful simplicity of Scoop.it -- a tool that I LOVE using in class with my students (see here and here). And it's free.
Google automatically organizes content into folders: One of the features that I really dig about Google's new bookmark extension is that Google is constantly scanning my links for patterns and organizing those links into "Auto Folders." To test the feature, I bookmarked about 20 sites this morning about a few of my interests: Technology, education, the Buffalo Bills and the school district that I work in.
Here's how Google sorted them for me:
Not bad for a list generated automatically, right?
Google recognized my Buffalo Bills and Education links and dropped them into folders for me without any trouble. They also sorted links from the same domain into categories for me. While they missed the fact that my technology bookmarks were about topics BEYOND Google, I'm guessing that as I add more links to my collection, my auto folders will become more nuanced and specific.
That's useful, y'all. If Google can find patterns in my bookmarks and help to sort them for me, I will have a better chance of sifting through my content efficiently, particularly links that I forget to sort accurately on my own when bookmarking.
You can search your bookmarks using Google's search technology: Like any tool that organizes bookmarks for users, Google's new bookmark extension provides users with a search bar to find content in growing collections. The difference here is that users have access to GOOGLE's search technology -- which means navigating through bookmarks is BOUND to be a breeze no matter how many links you add to your bookmark library.
While there's nothing particularly fancy about that, it's useful -- and it makes Google and Chrome sustainable as a bookmarking option. It means that my collection will be just as easy to navigate when it has 2,000 bookmarks in it as it is right now with only 20 bookmarks in it.
Long story short: I'd abandoned browser-based bookmarking tools years ago because they were clunky, hard to categorize and impossible to publish.
Google has corrected all of those issues with this new bookmark extension -- which means they've created a tool that I'm willing to take for a spin.
Now if only they'd allow me to build a bookmark collection with partners....
Related Radical Reads:
Teaching Kids to Curate Content Collections [ACTIVITY]
Curating Sources on Controversial Topics [ACTIVITY]
Managing Information in the 21st Century [SLIDE]