Relieved, With A Side of Trepidation

This morning, as I read my morning RSS feeds, my eyes strayed to an entry that immediately brought on a wave of euphoria: Delicious has been purchased!

Delicious, the venerable social bookmarking website (since 2003 – practically a centenarian in Web years), has long been my favorite bookmark storage tool and the news last fall that Yahoo was going to “sunset” the service was not well met by me, and countless others. There was a mad scramble to export marks, locate alternative services, board up the doors and duct tape the windows and find a suitable tinfoil hat. But I still couldn’t bring myself to abandon Delicious. It works so effectively for me. Tagging and saving via my bookmarklets is like second nature.

And, guess who’s buying? None other than the founders of YouTube, Chad Hurley and Steve Chen. Now, if they don’t know how to build and promote a web service, then who the heck does?

Then, the euphoria gives way to a nagging sense of doubt.

Why the trepidation, you ask?  Well, it won’t be a behind-the-scenes, no-blip-on-the-user-radar kind of change over. Hurley and Chen have indicated that they will be creating a new service from existing Delicious data, which you can opt into or, well, do what you would have done anyway if Yahoo just tanked it. The new service is to be called AVOS. There is my first problem. Delicious is a MUCH better name. What the heck does AVOS mean? And, Delicious has a great deal of name recognition that clearly Chen and Hurley are not overly concerned about. Which makes me wonder, what exactly is AVOS going to be about. I doubt it will be just about bookmarking.

Delicious says that that Chen and Hurley’s startup will “continue the service that users have come to know and love and by working with the community, make the site even easier and more fun to save, share and discover the web’s ‘tastiest’ content.”

O.k. We shall have to see. I hate to sound curmudgeonly, but I happen to really love Delicious the way it works right now. So, long and short. I am very happy that Delicious is not destined for the dustbin (yet). However, I am silently and fervently praying that they keep the site’s bones intact. Delicious works well right now. Why fix it if it’s not broken?

Signed, “Cautious in Canton.”

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Social Search, Please, With Everything On It

Keywords aren’t enough anymore: searching across interests and social circles is becoming the rage as we move from Web 2.0 into whatever the next version will be called. As the tracks of likes, shares, recommendations and social connections begin criss-crossing and overlapping, smart algorithms can begin to paint a more accurate picture of what we might really be interested in. Gravee (link here) offers a package deal on search, piled high with bookmarking, personalized recommendations, and social components. First and foremost, it is a metasearch engine, that pulls results from the top engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing (did I just say Bing twice?).  However, if you actually complete a social profile on the site, state your likes and interests, and use the site’s bookmarking, tagging and voting features, your search results start to get even more interesting. You can import existing bookmarks from Google, Delicious and Stumbleupon, as well as links from your Facebook account. These past impressions (and new impressions you make via the Gravee bookmarklet) will modify how certain results will rank in your search efforts.

Social is achieved by filling out a profile on Gravee, as well as by linking your other social profiles from Facebook, MySpace, Hi5 or bebo. You can friend or fan other Gravee members, and like or dislike their bookmarks or add them to your own. Each activity you engage in through Gravee affects your search results. So, in essence, the more frequently and broadly you use Gravee’s features, the better your search results should be. Gravee will also pull information from people with similar interests to yours, making this social search mechanism even more global.

By the way, it’s pronounced “gravy” and comes with a definition: variant(s0: gravy (a): something additional or unexpected that is pleasing or valuable.

Too Good To Be True

Well, easy come, easy go. Such is the way of web life and reliance on cool, free web tools. I just wrote the other day (link here) about the great third party bookmarking service called Xmarks, successor to Foxmarks, that syncs your bookmarks across browsers, plus offers lots of other goodies and features. Today, I saw this blog post from Xmarks (link here) in the news. I’ll just cut to the chase with the following quote:

By Spring 2010, with money running tight and options fading, we started searching for potential buyers of the company. Over the past three months, we have been remarkably close to striking a deal, only to have the potential buyer get cold feet. We also considered refocusing Xmarks as a freemium sync business, but the prospects there are grim too: with the emergence of competent sync features built in to Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome, it’s hard to see users paying for a service that they can now get for free. For four years we have offered the synchronization service for no charge, predicated on the hypothesis that a business model would emerge to support the free service. With that investment thesis thwarted, there is no way to pay expenses, primarily salary and hosting costs. Without the resources to keep the service going, we must shut it down. Our plan is to keep the service running for another 90+ days, after which the plug will be pulled.

Oh well. The loss of a bookmarking service and resulting collection is hard to swallow, as Magnolia users will attest. Sorry to see you go, Xmarks – it was good while it lasted. Hurry up and back up your Xmarks!