However the story does not end there. When I can store my bookmarks online, why not share them with friends? If so with friends, why not with common interest groups. Social Bookmarking was born. Web sites started offering netizens not only online storage for their bookmarks but also an opportunity to share and view other people's favorite bookmarks. Among the most popular ones today on the Internet are Del.icio.us (read it as delicious), Digg, Reddit, NewsVine, Blink, Furl, Spurl, Sphere, etc.
The few common services that all these websites allow are
- Bookmark your favorite web sites or URLs.
- Have your bookmarks thrown open to the public and get them to vote for your bookmark in case they like it.
- You can add friends and constantly keep track of new bookmarks that they add.
- More the votes on your bookmark, the more likely it is to appear on the homepages of these web sites. That will mean more and more people will view the bookmark and hence more votes.
- Tag your bookmarks with key words that enable users searching on those key terms to locate your bookmark.
- Tag Clouds that give an idea of what keywords are currently the most popular among users.
- Plugins for Firefox, Google Desktop, Opera, etc allow you to access your bookmarks and earmark new ones to these sites directly, without having to actually browse to these web sites.
Of recent I have been witnessing a slew of Indian social bookmarking sites that have sprung up. Indiagram, HumDigg, IndianPad, ForumsofIndia are four that I have come across. While this post does not intend to review each of them in detail and point out their shortcomings, it definitely is an attempt to point out the uniqueness of each of these sites and leave it to the Indian IT Pulse reader to choose his/her favorite. The idea is to highlight the social bookmarking trend that is catching the fancy of netizens in India and the scenario in the Indian webscape. So here goes:
Indiagram: One of the first Indian social bookmarking sites I came across. The most refreshing feature in Indiagram is the User Cloud on the home page. Based on a rating system that takes into account the number of bookmarks added, the rating obtained for one's bookmarks based on voting by other users, etc the most popular user is indicated on a higher sized font in the cloud of names. Less popular users are assigned lower font sizes. Though other sites too rank users, a user cloud acts as a quick reference to home in on the most popular bookmarker.
HumDigg: A clone of Digg, this has provided me some very interesting material to read. Guess, the initial adopters of HumDigg have turned out to be quite Internet savvy people. URLs are also browsable category wise which is one cool feature here. Categories range from technology, movies to sports and science.
IndianPad: A flurry of interesting innovations make this website a must visit, even if you are not a registered user. In addition to the usual links, the site also allows users to add music bookmarks and rate music. The tag cloud too is user tweakable to view popular tags in the last 48 hours, 7 days, 30 days , 1 year or for all time. Some things though failed to impress me. There is a section called Livecast that gives a live preview of URLs being posted real time, though I must say, I could not fathom why it would interest anybody. URLs too have been divided into 3 sections. General Stories, Audio and Adult. Seems rather bizarre and I could only gather that it must have been done with a commercial intent rather than provide for any meaningful browsing.
Forums of India: A new kid on the block, with run-of-the-mill features. Though I did not find anything out of the ordinary, I plan to keep a watch to see if this site has some ace up its sleeve, something fresh and innovative. I must add though that when I came across this site, it gave me the impetus to get this post from draft to publish status. :-)
One major grouse I have of all Indian bookmarking sites is that all of them promise to give you India specific content, but fall short by miles. Indiagram says "Stay current and informed with India", IndianPad shouts, "My Country, My views , My vote!" . Quite understandable that users cannot be restricted to submit only URLs restricted to Indian web sites and doing so would make the sites less popular. However, I would love to at least see a section that displays only the India specific URLs filtered from the rest of the URLs. This might be done say via an automatic filtering by filterbot followed by a review from an editorial board.
At the time of writing this post, I am sure none of the web sites have reached a critical mass of users. To get more users registering at these sites, the site promoters need to convince users the need to start bookmarking. To start bookmarking, users need lots of good content to read. With blogging rapidly catching the fancy of the Indians, lot of desi content is sure to drive traffic to these sites. Meanwhile, until that happens, these sites would have to rely, first, on their current users recycling bookmarks stumbled upon on the international bookmarking sites and second, their ability to innovate. Innovation would be crucial to survive the bloodbath that is gonna happen sooner or later to drive traffic and maintain sustainable revenue streams flowing.
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