Social Media and Social Work – Part 2 Social Bookmarking


Bookmarks made of strings. Spin.

Image via Wikipedia

Social Bookmarking is a way to share links (or ‘bookmarks’) with other people or ‘on the internet’ rather than locally on whatever internet accessing device you are using.  The first ‘weblogs’ or ‘blogs’ as they became were social bookmarking sites. They were ways of sharing with others links that you found interesting or useful.

As  a disclaimer I’d say I’m not an ‘expert’ in social media but this is a personal exploration of how I use these tools to help me both in my practice and to keep up to date with issues for the purposes of writing my blog (although those two things can’t be kept separate!) as well as keeping track of interesting random things I find online that I want to come back to whether academic articles, newspaper articles or recipes to try!

Delicious is probably the best known social bookmarking site. It’s future is also somewhat uncertain as Yahoo (who own it) want to close it down or sell it so bear that in mind when I write about it.

It allows me to mark and bookmark sites and pages of interest and create ‘tags’ for them. For example, I have a ‘socialwork’ tag that has all the pages and sites I come across on my random forays through the web that I can come back to when I am writing or thinking of writing a post but also it allows me easy access to the sites that I read most frequently.

I have a ‘newspaper’ tag to group together the journals and standard sites I read and a tag for policy information. The advantage of holding this information online or ‘in the cloud’ is that I can access these bookmarks from any computer I use.

You can add more than one ‘tag’ to each site or post.

The social part comes in that people can share their bookmarks with each other.

My bookmarks are here but tread carefully. I tend to save mostly for myself and my tagging is a bit haphazard (I have a special ‘todo’ tag that means I intend to read a particular article, for example!). I also have some other, random sites in there but you might get an idea of how it works.

This post explains ways of using delicious but it is more adventurous than I have been. I use the Firefox addon.

Pinboard is very similar to delicious but it is a paid service. There is a one-off charge of about £5 (depends on exchange rate) and allows for an online backup of bookmarks and easy tagging. I probably still use delicious more but I signed up in case delicious disappears as I could port over all my saved bookmarks there.

I’ll group Tumblr and Posterous together. They are alternate blogging platforms that while allowing longer form posts referred to in the previous post in the series, seem to be better suited to sharing links, photos and ideas very much along the lines of the original ‘weblogs’.

I haven’t much experience of Posterous but have played around with Tumblr a fair bit.

Tumblr again, I often use as a bookmarking site as much as anything. I use it to put articles and information that I want to come back to but more traditionally, it can be used as a simple blogging platform. I assume Posterous works in a similar way. It is a good way of sharing links, commenting on articles and creates a ‘short form’ blog. Comments can be added via disqus. RSS feeds can be added as well.

I set up a Tumblr account here (although I have another private one!). As you will see, it is basically a mirror of this site so don’t bother following it but it is just as an example of the kind of thing that can be done. It is very easy to add posts direct from the browser (there’s also a firefox extension to Tumblr).

One of my favourite uses of Tumblr is a site set up by Malcolm Payne (of Modern Social Work Theory fame – is there any British Social Worker or Social Work Student who doesn’t have that definitive textbook? (if there is, go out and buy it! Now!)

Basically we live in times when sometimes we can suffer from information overload. We need to develop skills to sift through the information and find what is most important and relevant to us. Whether that is as social work professionals trying to keep up with the debates around us and find different views or whether it is about locating the best recipe for Lemon Linguine – sometimes we might surf past a site and want to keep record of it somewhere other than on the PC we are using at the time.

That, for me, is the beauty and use of these sites. I’m sure there are a million uses and I’d be interested to know how other people use social bookmarking sites and ‘short form’ blogs. If you have a tumblr or posterous site that you want to share, do leave a comment!

Next week – Twitter

See the my previous post in the series - Social Media and Social Work – Part 1 Blogs