Social Bookmarking Tools as Facilitators of Learning and Research Collaborative Processes: The Diigo Case

Article excerpt

Introduction

The rise of Web 2.0 tools has led to the rapid development of a number of applications that enhance collaborative work. These include social bookmarking systems (SBS) that provide users with the reference (marked), description, classification and the possibility to share resources with other users.

In this paper, all the applications of SBS are addressed: functional features, nature, and restrictions. Next, one of these tools, Diigo, is analyzed, taking into account its possible uses and benefits for researching and education. In the fourth section, a comparison between different methods of storing bookmarks is carried out in order to highlight the advantages of Diigo and its differentiating features. This comparison is completed through a SWOT analysis of the kind of tools used in a 30-user community. To close, some conclusions and possible future directions of investigation are outlined.

Social Bookmarking Systems

Social Bookmarking Systems are web 2.0 tools that allow users to store, classify, organize, describe, and share links to interesting web sites, blogs, pictures, wikis, videos, and podcasts. They also guarantee access from any site to the conventional container of "favorite" links, as well as the possibility to share them with other like-minded users through blogs or RSS technology.

Depending on the web resources bookmarked, we can talk about different types of SBS. There are SBS focused on collecting web sites (Diigo, del.icio.es, Mister Wong, Blinklist), some focused on collecting news (digg.com), and others on pictures (Flickr) or even on bibliographical references (CiteU).

Characteristics of Every SBS

Regardless of the type of content tagged, all the above-mentioned SBS have some common characteristics. The most common of which are the basic unit of referenced information and the use of tags.

To begin with, the basic unit of referenced information used by any SBS is a set of three elements called 'triple' that is represented this way: (user, resource, {tags}) (Cattuto, 2006). This unit, which defines the way the SBS work, indicates that a user has marked a specific resource with a set of concrete tags.

As for the use of tags, it clearly implies the use of folksonomies. A folksonomy, a term coined by Thomas Vander Wal and which is a combination between "folk" and "taxonomy" (Smith, 2004), is an organic system of organization and a way of social classification using tags. Due to this, any SBS can also be seen as a Social Tagging System.

The folksonomy enables users to organize their bookmarks in a meaningful way and search for resources associated to specific tags. Resources can also be classified according to the number of users that have tagged them.

Unlike taxonomies (or classifications), where there are multiple types of hierarchical relationships, folksonomies are not based on hierarchies: there are no explicitly indicated relationships between the terms included. They are just the keywords that a group of users have used to describe a specific content (Hamond, Hannay, Lund, & Scott, 2005; Mathes, 2004). The social networking usage of tags is one of the simplest ways of adding high-semantic-valued metadata to the content.

When a web resource is tagged, SBS enable users to describe its content by adding a set of data known as metadata (data about data). Depending on the SBS, this set of data or metadata contains the following elements (Zubiaga, Martinez, & Fresno, 2009):

* Tags or terms that define and feature the resource. These can be names, acronyms, numbers, or any chain of text with no format or meaning restriction.

* Notes or comments: a short text freely describing the content of the resource.

* Highlights: parts of the resource marked as relevant.

* Reviews: texts freely assessing the content of a resource.

* Ratings: personal marks or punctuation indicating whether users liked a specific resource or not in a scale from 1 to 5, for instance. …