One of the pioneers of the web 2.0 was the amazing del.icio.us website. It made sharing bookmarks an incredibly rich and fun experience. With its catchy domain name and well conceived minimalist interface, it attracted a horde of web enthusiasts ready to share their best links with the rest of the world.
Although Flickr is often mentioned as the inventor of tagging, del.icio.us ingeniously applied folksonomy to bookmarking, making it the first social network that could compete with search engines in terms of content discovery. And yes, we’re talking about a time when Facebook was not even born, baby.
As you can feel, 12 years later, I’m still excited by the possibilities and the experience del.icio.us offered. Unfortunately, the rest of the story is a sad slow descent into crappy interface design choices and consecutive owner changes. Although it was fun for a while, by 2011, I was actively looking for an alternative. One that for sure I knew was not going to be sold. One that I could keep control over its development.
Luckily, when you’re angry at something on the web, there is a good chance other people are. And hopefully, something good pops out of it. I found my angry creative man ruling his own corner of the web under the name Seb Sauvage. Seb was angry at del.icio.us, stumbleupon, diigo and all the social bookmarking clones he had tried. So he coded his own in the way he always crafts his tools, in a Keep-It-Simple-and-Secure manner. Then released it to the world.
Shaarli, as in share links, is an open source bookmarking application written in php that allows you to keep, tag, organize and share your collections of bookmarks without hassle. It also does import from del.icio.us, so you can switch service easily. All you have to do is export an OPML file and import it in your Shaarli.
Why am I bringing this subject today?
Because, since the beginning of this year, del.icio.us has been actively pushing advertising without anybody realizing it. See this Twitter search (and screenshot), where hundreds of people are sharing the same link to sponsored content. Yes, people linked their delicious account with twitter and forgot about it.
I had kept my old account alive as a trace of the past. But seeing that it was now used to promote products under my name, I went out to put an end to it and decided to inform others about it.
Ricardo, from Manufactura Independente, picked up the info and moved his account to his own instance of Shaarli. Then, we chatted with a few other designers on how the old delicious user experience needed to be revived. And Ricardo spent last Sunday to make our wish come true: making a delicious theme for Shaarli, like it’s 2004 all over again.
Shaarli is an amazing project now supported by a community of developers on Github. New features and improvements are added regularly. Although it does not have the same convenience as competitors in terms of social functionalities, it does provides an RSS feed so you can subscribe to your friends valuable links or connect it through IFFT or any service that supports it.
The web still needs to be organized. And more than ever it needs to be done in the open. Keeping notes and bookmarks is valuable information not just for oneself, but for everyone. Let’s just not make this a profitable business for one company by keeping it behind walled gardens. It does not have to be complex. The web from 2004 still works great today.
So here are my booksmarks, free for all, since 2004.
Also published on Medium.