I discovered social bookmarking only recently and I just find it amazing as a way to help people share on the web. If you are interested in exploring the concept, this is an example. This is another example: deli.icio.us. There was also a nice post on the topic on Francis Pisani's blog. Pisani is a correspondent of Le Monde in San Francisco.
How social bookmarking could be interesting for someone was not obvious to me when I found out it existed. I just felt it was "a cool way for people to share perceptions and good tips about web resources". Now, that is perhaps nice, but it does not give us a business requirement or a specific need that the tool is able to satisfy for people. A cool way to share about web resources is nice and good. Does it allow me to say "to perform what"? No. So I felt quite awkward although interested by the potential I could perceive instinctively.
It turns out I am sometimes a little bit lucky and so a concrete example occurred to me today during a discussion with a young lady who attends the same NLP training as I am. Virginie has a job that I find fascinating: she researches and writes content for a publisher on various topics with an objective to contribute to the creation of a thematic encyclopedia on well being, which is distributed in the context of loyalty and marketing programmes.
Virginie likes doing her research and absorbing new material and in her job she operates like a "transformer" of knowledge: she researches sources of information and exploits them to understand and cross-check facts and data to build her knowledge of a topic. She subsequently uses that knowledge and the research material to produce content for the encyclopedia. In her mission, Virginie feels it is essential to make sure the content is as objective as possible: the readers need to receive facts and not her interpretation or her opinion on the subject matter. Therefore Virginie needs to find several sources "of good quality" on a topic to perform her job. A few minutes after speaking to her I realized that social bookmarking could be a great tool for her as a starting point for identifying sources on a given topic. For the sources extracted from social bookmarking, Virginie could have:
- a feel for quality in terms of other people's perception of the nature of the material, but not necessarily in terms of the intrinsic value of the material provided by the source;
- a fairly large number of sites and resources generally perceived as belonging to the same category, with which to carry out cross-checking;
- an indication of relevance of the site, i.e. one way to check how a given site is rated by other people in terms of connection to the topic she is working on.
To be sure, a social bookmarking site will not give Virginie any indication as to the criteria used by the users of the site to buld their categories. Furthermore, Virginie will still have to cross-check sources, make sure she understands what she is writing about and to produce content for her customer (today the publisher of the encyclopedia).
Well you know, infotech (in this particular case its applications to social bookmlarking) cannot do everything and should it really? I just believe the tool is a great candidate to help her work more
productively and to facilitate her access to relevant information on
the Internet. It does not replace, nor eliminate the relevance of
search engines. Rather it adds a human dimension to the categorization
of material present on the Internet.
Infotech just gives Virginie a better way to focus on her true mission in a better and more harmonious way. Infotech makes people power possible.