Wednesday, March 12, 2008
31 Days to Building a Better Blog: Day 30
The second but last day of the 31 Day Challenge is to visit a social media site: social bookmarking or networking site. I have chosen to look at del.icio.us, which is a social bookmarking site.
I must admit that I am cheating a bit by doing this because I actually joined del.icio.us last year. But I have not engaged with it, and only really started thinking about its functions a few days ago when I was considering what tools I would recommend to students and midwives as time-saving tools. I was also very intrigued by a post by Alan Cann at Science of the Invisible, where he explains how del.icio.us can be used for networking and sharing information. He used del.icio.us network explorer to show how his network extends from one person to another. This got me thinking about how I use del.icio.us.
Up until now, I have used del.icio.us as a bookmarking service. In other words, it does not matter what computer I use, if I come across a website I want to save as a bookmark or 'my favorite', del.icio.us will allow me to do that. This is hugely advantageous if you use more than one computer.
I became aware of how valuable the networking aspect of del.icio.us is the other day. I was writing an academic paper about social networking and I needed to find some literature to explain what it is and how it came about. I went to Google Scholar and to my usual databases, but I couldn't get a sense of what was the key literature. So I thought of someone who would know, Sue Waters, and checked on what she has bookmarked in her account. In no time I found an article by Tim O'Reilly who was one of the first people to talk about Web 2.0. I knew this must be an important or credible article because it has been saved by 505 people.
Here's a hypothetical example of how it could be used from a midwifery perspective:
I want to know more about breech presentation (baby coming bottom first). I know that Maggie Banks is perceived as a midwifery expert in this area and I wonder what articles on breech babies she has been reading lately. So I find her in del.icio.us and see what articles she thinks are worth looking at. It gives me an insight into what Maggie is reading (if it's good enough for her, it must be good enough for me?), can be a time-saving strategy and may lead me to literature that I otherwise would not have come across.
Now the only snag to all this is, I cannot find Maggie on del.icio.us so I don't think she has an account. But just think how amazing it would be if we were able to link with key international midwives with a tool like this!
The image above shows my network - I am the green dot in the middle. As you can see, currently I am only networked to three people. You can also see how my very small network compares to the much larger network of one of the people I am networked to - hope that makes sense.
Postscript: Have a look at what Sue Waters has written about del.icio.us - it is a very thorough account of how to use it to its full potential.