In case you haven't heard, Yahoo has decided to shut down the popular bookmarking service delicious. This news has hit me harder than almost any other shutdown notification has - I've used it multiple times a day for almost 7 years and have something like 5,000 bookmarks saved. That sounds outrageous, but I use it for recipes, dissertation links, classroom exercises, journal articles, diy tutorials, language lessons, sewing patterns, useful pages for traveling including strange attractions and hotel recommendations, a larger version of my Instapaper archive, and who knows what else.
Its capacity for tags absolutely revolutionized my organization. Being able to assign multiple categories, including "to read" or being able to send tags to friends, totally changed my ability to store and, this is crucial, to LATER FIND AGAIN the things I needed and wanted. Even if delicious wasn't the origin of tagging, it was a catalyst to understanding that static and linear structures for organizing wouldn't work with fuzzy content, nor does it work for real people. Tagging meant that I could work backwards from a thought: so if I had some lentils and tomatoes, I could enter those ingredients and find my excellent Thai soup recipe, a French salad recipe or the base of a Moroccan stew. I didn't have to remember to look for "Thai soup recipe" which is critical when you're starving and faced with imagining dinner. The same goes for image repositories for my dissertation, historical records or particular articles: you didn't have to remember the name of the thing to be able to find it again. This seems so obvious now, but after moving from a linear hierarchy of links stored on my laptop, it was pretty revolutionary not to have things stored in multiple folders. Being able to cluster tags also made trends in my own research became apparent, and I learned about new trends and services by looking at the tags that others had used to store the same URL.
That brings me to the best part about delicious for me - the social aspect. The 'network' feature was a critical component and lead me to some extremely awesome, excellent, newsworthy or useful links. Tags gave me search terms, which gave me new ways of understanding and learning.
This Lifehacker post talks about some alternatives for migrating your delicious bookmarks. One alternative that keeps popping up is Pinboard, which relies on a similar model of tagging, but has two aspects which are quite strange: (1) it proudly proclaims itself as the "antisocial bookmarking" service (and their recent Twitter update, which is kind of hilarious when you think about it), which completely negates one of the main benefits of delicious, and (2) it relies on a pricing structure that increases the user sign-up fee by $0.001 with each new user. So last week the price was something like $5-6. Right now it's over $8. I imagine that as the delicious news is actually announced, it'll skyrocket even further. As a friend on Facebook said on my RIP post there, it doesn't make that much sense to have a pricing structure that increases the more customers you have. It seems like it'll throttle the number of users, which might be OK from a "server needs" point of view, but totally misses the point of user aggregation. Here is a useful outline on the differences between Pinboard and delicious.
There's also a recent AskMe post on delicious bookmarking alternatives, and a long thread of folks on Metafilter discussing the service shutdown. There are a few helpful links in that thread, including a reminder that deadlicious will comb through your links to remove dead links, and give you the option to delete or fix them.
So: any advice on what to do with my bookmarks? I know many of you solely use Evernote or Zotero, or both. I use Zotero for dissertation and writing, but don't see it replacing my oodles of other random links -- am I wrong? Evernote never stuck with me, but I'd give it another chance. Any diigo users here?
Is there a great -- user-friendly, social and fast open-source alternative? Who knows, perhaps the plea to make delicious open-source will be heard? Do you use Givealink, a project out of Indiana University and (partially?) funded by the NSF?
RIP del.icio.us. You are my brain in the cloud. And Yahoo, <stern look> don't get any ideas about shutting down Flickr.
Late addition: Yahoo/Delicious give an update: "We're actively thinking about the future of Delicious and we believe there is a home outside the company that would make more sense for the service and our users. We're in the process of exploring a variety of options and talking to companies right now. And we'll share our plans with you as soon as we can."