Tools for Transparency…Are Delicious

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This week’s guest blogger is Jed Sundwall. Jed is an Internet marketing consultant who specializes in the usage of social media by governmental organizations. He works for Captura Group, developing and managing Internet strategies for USA.gov and GobiernoUSA.gov. He lives in San Diego and spends his spare time surfing, battling Internet addiction, and cooking for his wife.

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In the interest of transparency, I’m revealing my secret weapon: Delicious.

If you’re not already familiar with it, Delicious is a simple, social bookmarking service. It allows you to bookmark URLs online and organize them by adding tags. For instance, if you were to bookmark SunlightFoundation.com, you might tag it politics, government, transparency, and technology. You can also add brief descriptions to the URLs you save. It’s the best way I’ve found to save and organize bookmarks. It’s far better than most browser’s default bookmarking systems — tags are better at organizing bookmarks than folders, and the fact that Delicious is web-based lets you access your bookmarks from anywhere.

But Delicious is a social service, too. The bookmarks you save are publicly visible by default (although you can mark your bookmarks as private if you want). Anyone can browse bookmarks saved to Delicious by searching for tags that people have used when creating their own bookmarks. The beauty is that you can measure how relevant your results are based on how many have bookmarked each URL.

What makes Delicious stand out among social tools is that it’s a social service that would be valuable even if no one else used it. It’s a great bookmarking tool on its own, but it becomes more useful as more people use it. I should admit that “politics, government, transparency, and technology” aren’t tags I thought of for SunlightFoundation.com myself — Delicious recommended those tags for Sunlight based on how other people have already tagged the URL.

Even if you don’t use Delicious to save your bookmarks, it’s one of the best free research tools on the Internet. An old standby of mine has been to find niche blogs by searching Delicious for bookmarks tagged “blog” and “[niche keyword].” Here’s a quick search for URLs tagged “blog” and “transparency” — notice that SunlightFoundation.com has been bookmarked by over 1,400 people.

You can also look up a URL on Delicious to see who’s saved it and browse through popular tags associated with that URL. It’s a great way to find neighboring sites. Here’s all of the info Delicious has on USA.gov based on the 3,400 times it’s been bookmarked.

For more tips on how to perform advanced research on Delicious check out this quick post on Advanced Delicious Search Operators from Modern Journalist.

Delicious really is a great testament to the power of transparency. If you find something worthwhile enough to bookmark, and you’re willing to share your find with the world, consider saving it to Delicious and tagging it so others can benefit.

You can see my bookmarks at delicious.com/tripoli.

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