Social Bookmarking in Learning and Teaching

socialnetworkingicons.pngSocial Bookmarking tools allow users to share, organize, search, and manage bookmarks of web resource using simple online tools.

The “book-marking” part of social book-marking is the online equivalent of the ‘favourites’ list (of websites etc) that you manage from the browser on your own computer. The “social” part of social book-marking is the way you can share with others and search what they have saved. You may already be familiar with some of the most popular Social Bookmarking sites including Delicious and Diigo.

This section provides an overview of Social Bookmarking and the ways you can use these tools to manage links and information and share it with your colleagues or students. The following information has been provided

  1. What is Social Bookmarking
  2. Which Social Bookmarking Tools
  3. Tagging and Social Bookmarking Tools
  4. Find out More About Social Bookmarking
  5. What's Next?

Activities for this topic

Learners who are completing the Social Networking Course should refer to the Moodle site for more information about the activities provided.

1. What is Social Bookmarking

Social bookmarking is a method for Internet users to organise, store,manage and search for bookmarks of resources online. Unlike file sharing, the resources themselves are bot shared but the bookmarks that reference them. Descriptions may be added to these bookmarks in the form of metadata, so users may understand the content of the resource without first needing to download it for themselves. Such descriptions may be free text comments, votes in favour of or against its quality, or tags that collectively or collaboratively become a folksonomy. Folksonomy is also called social tagging, "the process by which many users add metadata in the form of keywords to shared content" Wikipedia accessed 29/1/11.

With social bookmarking, you save your favourites online but instead of organizing bookmarks into a subject folder, you can assign them multiple labels (tags) so they can be associated with a number of topics. Your bookmarks can be shared publicly or you can save them as private – viewable by only you. Social bookmarking is especially powerful in that you can search what others have found useful. There are a number of social bookmarking sites. Some popular tools are Delicious (formerly called and Diigo.

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3. Tagging

Tagging is a method of categorisation whereby key words are assigned to web based resources by users of social software services such as social bookmarking or photosharing sites. Each user "tags" the resources arbitrarily according to their own personal preferences. Items may have multiple tags which may or may not correspond to other users tags. Because users assign their own tags, which may not necessarily correspond to other users, the system is potentially ambiguous and anarchic. For example I may tag “apple” for a resources related to a brand of computer however another person may be assigning it to a type of fruit.

This practice of social groups collaboratively categorising resources is known as folksonomy and differs from the more formal model of a predefined hierarchal model of classification know as taxonomy such as the Dewy Decimal system used in library's.

Taxonomy - The science of classification
  • From the greek verb:
    • Taxis = "to classify"
    • Nomos = "law, science, economy"
  • Hierarchical-enumerative top down tree like structure
  • Hierarchies designed and maintained by experts
  • Repositories cataloged by experts eg. libraries
  • Structure imposed on the world of objects
  • Centralised classification

Folksonomy - Social classification
  • Folk + Taxonomy meaning that it emerges from the people
  • Open democatic system
  • Constantly evolving based on user interactions and consensus
  • tags capture the social fabic at that moment in time
  • Structure is an emergent property
  • Well suited to rapidly changing heterogeneous information sources such as the internet and social networks
  • Distributed classification

Emanuele Quintarelli, Folksonomies: power to the people, 2005

Tagging or the folksonomic process of assigning keywords to items has become synonymous with what is referred to as social software. Social software are web based services which allow users to form social networks online. Although heterogenous in their service provision they all have some common charateristics.

Social software has some or all of the following characteristics:
  • Easy content creation
  • Collaborative content creation
  • Ability to share content with others (often via RSS feeds)
  • Makes it easy to find other users with similar interests
  • Tools for forming online communities

Examples of Social Software

Information taken from SRidgway

More Information

Thirteen Tips for Effective Tagging
7 Things You Should Know About Social Bookmarking
Using Diigo

4. Which Social Bookmarking Tools

There are a number of tools but the most popular are Delicious and Diigo. We use both in Innovation and Technology Enhanced Learning (iTEL). We use Diigo to share our research in technology enhanced learning.

More information

I Like Delicious Things
FAQ on Delicious

5. What's Next?

  1. If you are completing the Social Networking Course, visit the Moodle site and complete Topic 14 Social Networking.
  2. Check out the next section of the SWSI Social Networking Wiki - Microblogging
  3. If you are exploring Social Networking independently, check out the Social Networking Matrix and select the tools that you can use in your teaching or learning.