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Interview with Joshua Schachter of del.icio.us 174

Posted by Zonk
from the sooo-tasty dept.
prostoalex writes "Joshua Schachter, a Wall Street programmer by day, and a del.icio.us hacker by night, is interviewed by Guardian. The article also provides a little background story on del.icio.us, how it got started, and how Schachter convinced Stewart Butterfield of Flickr to add tagging to the photo sharing site. Both del.icio.us and Flickr are currently members of the Yahoo! family."
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Interview with Joshua Schachter of del.icio.us

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  • It's sad (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 29, 2006 @05:30PM (#14594685)
    That this is probably the most known site with a .US domain name.
  • Flickr and del.ici.us have a bright future at Yahoo! With the convergence of technologies and the explosion of geospatial technologies, expect a lot in the coming years. To keep myself on-topic, here's some links about flickr and del.icio.us

    To start with flickr, it could/will be integrated with Yahoo! Maps (review [slashgeo.org]):
    http://maps.yahoo.com/ [yahoo.com]
    Right now, we already have a similar tool, named flickrmap:
    http://www.flickrmap.com/ [flickrmap.com]

    As for del.icio.us, combine it with, again, Yahoo! Maps, you get something close to social mapping, which you get with Platial:
    http://www.platial.com/ [platial.com]

    That's only a start. We'll get more. And there's a lot of competition: Yahoo!, Google, Microsoft (and even Amazon with their mapping service [slashgeo.org]) all want a piece of our mindshare. Competition mean, probably, we'll get better consumer-level tools (of course, there's a price tag, but that's another story).

    To get back on-topic, my hopes are we'll see more open source flickr and del.icio.us projets. Take a look at Firefox extensions, you'll find del.icio.us wannabes. We're living in an interesting time...

    Oh, yeah, my shameless plug... if geospatial technologies is within your interests, which includes mapping in general, take a look at the link in my signature.
  • open source? (Score:5, Informative)

    by hitchhacker (122525) on Sunday January 29, 2006 @05:55PM (#14594828) Homepage

    I don't think the source code to del.icio.us is open. This is why I use de.lirio.us [lirio.us] instead, which uses Rubric [cpan.org]: "a notes and bookmarks manager with tagging."

    -metric
    • Re:open source? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by hitchhacker (122525) on Sunday January 29, 2006 @06:15PM (#14594920) Homepage

      de.liro.us seems to have just folded. alternatively, I just ran across scuttle.org [scuttle.org] which is written in php.
      Plus, it appears to support most of the del.icio.us API. [del.icio.us]

      -metric
    • Yeah, delirious is not looking too good these days. A few people emailed me about importing their data into Simpy [simpy.com]. Thoughts, anyone?
      While Simpy is not open-source, its dad is involved in several open-source projects, one of them being Lucene. Does that make Simpy more interesting? I don't know, your call.
  • by PornMaster (749461) on Sunday January 29, 2006 @05:59PM (#14594852) Homepage
    The benefits of tagging for a company like Yahoo come from the ability to use the tagging to derive the meaning of a page. Tagging will help Yahoo refine Yahoo search results and also suggest similar sites. The problem with it is that it's really got to be protected from abuse, or like meta keywords in the page, it'll be abused to the point where it's not reliable for anything, and will be largely ignored.
    • Hey..or there's always the Semantic Web! [crickets]
    • Comparing tagging to meta keywords is a bad one. Apples and oranges. Both are fruit, but should not be compared without more context. Doublin Core meta tags called for abuse, as they were created by the very author of a web page they described. As with blogs now, people go ego-crazy (or $-crazy) and will do almost anything to game the system and have a high placement on search engines like Technorati for blogs or Google for any other web page.
      Tagging is different.

      Tags are created by _others_, and that is
  • by DogDude (805747) on Sunday January 29, 2006 @06:33PM (#14595013) Homepage
    Has anybody invented a name yet, for the "web 2.0" types of people who are obsessed with every new silly fad, like blogs, flicker, delicious, myspace, etc.? There's a whole lot of those (you) people out there, and I just don't get it. Not only are there a lot of people into this stuff, but some are even militant about it, from what I can tell (ie: Don't make fun of blogging! It's better than journalism)

    I've been online since the BBS days, and I've kept up with all of the new changes, ideas (hell, protocols, even), but this "social" stuff seems (to me) to be nothing more than personal narcicism, magnified millions of times over, combined with a desperate, almost pathteic need to connect with other personalities in order to fill a massive void in their own personal lives combined with a total lack of any kind of academic discipline (it seems that more than half of the people who write online are functionally illiterate). Is it just me? Am I the last one alive with his own brain after the Body Snatchers came through?

    Anybody have any insight, or even a good suggested name for these people?
    • by generic-man (33649) on Sunday January 29, 2006 @06:46PM (#14595071) Homepage Journal
      The word you're looking for is trendy. There is a subset of the on-line population who absolutely must have the newest stuff. Since everything on the web is being rushed to market before it's scalable (perpetual "beta" periods, invitation-only services, etc) it's trendy to be trendy.

      As a fellow former BBSer, I find it best not to take the zealots or anti-zealots too seriously. Yes it's annoying to see ten-year-old technologies like RSS pumped up as the Next Big Thing, but I remember when messages were routed by phone lines during Zone Mail Hour. :)
    • Managers (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Sunday January 29, 2006 @06:46PM (#14595074) Journal

      Ah yes, the days of the BBS. For you younger people who might have heard of the internet bubble, the BBS was sorta what was before. It was an internet where you had to dial in to a website rather then all the websites being together on one big net. Oh it was more complex then that but I don't want to give you nightmares.

      One thing however that was the same was that I saw countless articles and tv shows about how companies needed a BBS to stay in business. Just like every company needed a website. Or a fax.

      It really isn't that complex, any new tech needs to be sold so marketting comes up with reasons and sales people tell them to managers and managers lap it up. Or something.

      This "social" thing ain't new. It just used to be your personal homespace on geocities but that failed so now it is your blog on myspace because that is better.

      Just like BBS sorta changed to websites, personal homepages changed to blogs. And just like some people have always shared their bookmarks this site is just a bit like it.

      Will it chance things? Well is slashdot a "social" way to share your links to intresting sites?

      It just doesn't sell headlines when you tell the truth and go "sorta new site does something that someone else already does but does it slightly better according to some but with half the uptime".

      Doesn't fit and people get bored. Better to claim the revolution is here! (Down nintendo fans)

    • I agree that there is some degree of narcissism present in all these things.

      Personally I just use it so I can access all of my bookmarks from whatever computer I happen to be on (CS lab workstation, home, dorm, laptop, etc.). It's a bit more convenient than keeping multiple bookmark files syncronized, or just emailing myself links.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Has anybody invented a name yet, for the "internet" types of people who are obsesses with every new silly fad like email, www, dsl, im, linux, etc.? There's a whole lot of those (you) people out there, and I just don't get it. Not only are there a lot of people into this stuff, but some are even militant about it, from what I can tell (ie: Don't make fun of email! It's better than USPS)

      I've had an Atari Personal Computer since the Atari Personal Computer days, and I've kept up with all of the new changes, i
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 29, 2006 @06:53PM (#14595122)
      Anybody have any insight, or even a good suggested name for these people?

      "p.eop.le"?
    • Am I the last one alive with his own brain after the Body Snatchers came through?

      Yes. And you are so cool and unique for it.

      Regarding del.icio.us, I get value in seeing what other links Ruby coders are looking into, for one example. Or maybe other people who set up their Harmony 360 remotes. Or other neat uses for an NSLU2. Or maybe hunt down a recipe for dinner tonight.

      There's value in communicating with other people - you should try it some time. Not everyone talks to other people to "fill a massive void", but hopefully it makes you at least feel good to be so dismissive of the ones who *do* need to fill a void. Good of you to still live out that old high school popularity contest throughout the rest of your life. Have fun with all that.
      • Case in point... you link to your blog... I'm looking at it, and quite honestly, I can't figure out what in the hell is going on, or why I would ever want to go back to it. You've got tags, photos, other blogs, and links to articles about articles about blogs about articles about tags about RSS feeds about... who knows what? There's no content there. Links to lists of links... So, what's the point? That's what I'm trying to understand. Is it a big popularity contest to see who can earn more than a few
        • Actually it's a playground where I tool around with lots of new tech to build my chops. A few code hacks are the only unique contributions there. Definitely nothing earthshaking to see there. Move along.

          It doesn't make my comments any less valid, but thanks for your little porn industry insight.
    • "Trendwhore" might work, or more to the point, "idiot". I agree that this social stuff is way out of hand, it seems like developers tend to just make anything social (which seems to be nothing more than allowing some degree of interaction and collaboration between users, kind of like, say, the whole darn internet) in an attempt to make it popular. For the most part, I find these social services to be a waste of time. Google works just fine for locating anything I'm looking for (if you ignore all the opinio
      • Yes, this whole social interaction concept CLEARLY sucks. I mean, you need to talk to *people* instead of computers. OMG. Hint: Humans are in the majority social animals. They like interacting with each other. Heck, even you do - why else would you post here?

        And just to clarify: Slashdot is a blog. Nothing else. "Moderating" comments is the equivalent of "tagging" - if not quite as flexible. And now that slashcode has at least a semi-grip on CSS and HTML, it's almost "Web 2.0" ;)

        What happens is that the old
        • Tagging is nothing like moderating. Moderation changes the order in which most users of Slashdot view messages, and it can even prevent some messages from being viewed.

          Tagging allows you to categorize things, so you can find people's posts about certain subjects. There's nothing on Slashdot like it that I can see. The closest match, I suppose, would be doing a search and finding articles related to your interests.

          As far as I can tell, Web 2.0 is defined by AJAX and collaboration, and really there's no A
          • ...and really there's no Ajax that I've noticed in Slashdot.

            you might want to click the `Sections' link on the lefthand side ^_^

            • I expected better Ajax than that from Slashdot. When you click on it, it appears, and when you click on X it reloads the page. And when you ask for help, it loads up the FAQ as a new page, so you can't even use the widget while you're reading help. In my current system, which wasn't difficult to write, you click on the help link and the help appears instantly on the same page.

              Furthermore, the presentation is sufficiently confusing that you really need the help, so that is one thing that had might as well
          • Moderation adds metadata to articles, the same as tagging does. (That's really what tagging is about - semantic markup. Organization is a side effect).

            As for what technology constitutes Web2.0 - who knows or cares... Ajax is mentioned often, but so is proper markup and use of CSS for layouts.

            But really, the main point was that whining about social technologies while being on /. is kind of strange.
    • by ngunton (460215) on Sunday January 29, 2006 @07:12PM (#14595196) Homepage
      I think you are missing the point by throwing everybody into a big heap and calling it "web 2.0". For a start, the whole Web 2.0 thing is just an attempt by someone to sum up the resurgence of the internet post-dot-bust of 2000. Some thought that the Web would pretty much die away as an exciting medium after that, that the "fad" was over. I think many were secretly glad about the bust, either because they simply didn't understand any of it in the first place, and were jealous about it (or threatened), or else because they simply missed out on all the money sloshing around.

      In any case, I personally don't think "Web 2.0" is anything real or substantial as a concept, it's simply the aggregate result of a few websites finding out "what works", in different areas. Google was finally able to demonstrate that you could actually make really interactive web apps that work across different browsers (I had stayed away from Javascript since the mid-90's because nothing seemed to be consistent across IE, Netscape etc, so this really was news to me when I saw Google maps for the first time).

      AJAX is just a relatively small, technological thing. But much bigger than AJAX is, in my opinion, the burgeoning realization of the social internet. So why has it happened only now, when the technology to do blogging, tags etc has really been around from the very beginning? Well, I think the answer is that social trends take their own time, they happen on their own schedule. It's like crowd behavior, when everybody in the audience decides to start clapping or stop at the same time - groups have their own intelligence.

      Finally, the reason we are only seeing these things now is because it's purely a matter of chance as to how long it takes to find out what works and what just misses the mark. Del.icio.us worked, blink.com didn't. Subtle difference, tags vs folders, but enough. It took years for people to realize what the Web could really be good for... at the start it was cool enough just to have a web page. That took a few years to get over. Then people started obsessing about cool design, then scripting, then eyeballs, then "push technology", then e-commerce... it's all trial and error. Eventually, by chance, someone makes some software that makes it really easy to post daily notes to a web page, and, well, that really worked. I think it's pretty funny that many times, the thing that turns out to "hit the mark" is the one that, before it was a hit, the "experts" would deride as being simplistic or just wrong. How could you trust the general public to write their own tags? How could you trust just *anybody* to edit a web page? Horrors!

      Turns out what people really love to do is network and communicate with other people, also to seek group status by their work. People seek tribes, it's a part of our nature. The Web is just currently figuring out how to express this side of our nature in ways that work. For a long time everybody assumed that hierarchical classification schemes developed by experts in back rooms were the way to organize stuff. So this guy who did del.icio.us, almost by chance, comes up with a flat scheme that is totally user-driven... and it works. Kind of like Wikis work, when before, all of our senses would have screamed "No, it can't work! It's anarchy! Vandals will take over!"... and yet, here we are. Open source... works. Wiki... works. Blogging... works. Tagging... works. The common thread between all of these is the social aspect - people working together, interacting and communicating and improving the group as a whole as a result. Shouldn't be all that surprising really, it's how we got where we are today.

      So, what to call "these people"? How about just ... people?
    • I agree. We really need to coin a trendy new phrase to help us make fun of all those people who waste their time chasing trends.

    • Anybody have any insight, or even a good suggested name for these people?

      It can only be 'wankr's - http://www.parm.net/web2.0/ [parm.net]
    • Let's examine the options, shall we?
      1) Blogs are for sharing thoughts and ideas.
      2) Flickr is for sharing photographs.
      3) Del.icio.us is for sharing and collecting information.
      4) MySpace, um, well, you got me there. (Does this even count as a web 2.0 site?) From what I can tell it's purpose is solely for sharing STDs...

      I'd say 75% of what you consider web 2.0 is actually pretty useful. If you insist on labeling us, how about calling us shrewd?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      This BBS stuff seems (to me) to be nothing more than personal narcicism, magnified millions of times over, combined with a desperate, almost patheic need to connect with other personalities in order to fill a massive void in their own personal lives.

      Trendy, is what I'd call it. Why use a BBS when you can just pick up the goddamn phone or mail someone.
    • Nippies?
    • Because these "fads," as you call them, embody what the Internet has become and should be -- people, like you and I, communicating all around the world and serving each other content. These fads, now more than ever, allow for easy content creation (blogs), delivery (flickr/blogs), and categorization.
      The most important thing that these tools can do is trivialize the Internet. Its existence and the ability to create and serve content should be taken for granted. And the people who "obsess" over these fad

    • Anybody have any insight, or even a good suggested name for these people?
      "Faddists"?

      However, you seem to imply that "people who understand the power of 'folksonomies'" should be tarred with the same brush. However, if you look a little closer you might realise that many of the latter group are not in the former.

    • I've been online since the BBS days, and blah blah blah Is it just me?

      You've been online since the BBS days and you think narcissism and illiteracy are new things? Surely you would have realized by now that the things you so dispise have nothing to do with any given technology or trend, and have everything to do with the fact that idiots are everywhere, blending in seamlessly with regular people. The terrible truth is that many of them are regular people.

      Take your post for example. You're making a sweepi
    • I've tried out del.icio.us and it's a neat service but don't think I'd spend all that much time looking around at other sites people have tagged. Seriously, how much time in a day do you have to look at these sites? Also, blogging is definitely overrated. There a handful worth reading but again, how much time do you have in a day to look at all of this stuff being created.
    • OMG, you are SO right! I have to blog this immediately! No, wait, I'll podcast it! May I add you to my friends list?
    • Anybody have any insight, or even a good suggested name for these people?


      I think Winers [scripting.com] describes their outlook and methods succinctly.
  • by alphaseven (540122) on Sunday January 29, 2006 @06:37PM (#14595029)
    Here's an interesting blog post by Ari Paparo, who had an idea similar to del.icio.us back in 1999 called blink.com (don't bother going, the site is no longer the same) for people to store their bookmarks online.

    What I find fascinating is even with 13 million dollars of investment and lots of publicity and technical know how behind it, del.icio.us succeeded and blink.com failed pretty much because of one simple thing, it used tags instead of folders. This reminds me of Malcolm Gladwell's (The Tipping Point) observation that the difference between being accepted or not can often rest on a very narrow detail.

    It can't be understated how much easier it is organizing stuff using tags, the folders within folders practice is useful for some types of data, but it becomes quite unwieldly quickly for things like photos and bookmarks.

    Ari Paparo Dot Com : Getting It Right [aripaparo.com]

  • I've been wanting to try delicious for a few months now, but they STILL havn't fixed their import feature. I've been building my link collection for 10 years now, I'm hardly going to throw it away and start again at delicious unless I can import my old stuff.

    Come on delicious, get your import working already.
    • Delicious is not the only game in town. Try Simpy [simpy.com], it just got a nice TechCrunch writeup. Has import, export, API, privacy, full-text search, you name it.
  • Isn't it like the most obvious idea? How else would you categorise any kind of data? And it's also obvious that information can belong to several categories at the same time. Hasn't this been going on since even before the invention of computers (libraries labeling their collection etc.)?

    So the delicious guy became popular with it, but I don't think that's because he invented "tagging". Not that it matters, but the hyping tone of the article just annoyed me.

    Besides, I am curious if del.icio.us will really b
  • Isn't del.icio.us the same thing as backflip.com. They both do bookmarking, what's the difference?
  • Or maybe I'm missing something, but I like to store my bookmarks in multiply nested folders. Yahoo, Google, del.ici.us (or however you spell it) only let you catagorize things one level down. You can tag a link as 'funny' or put it in the 'funny' folder, but if you have 20 'funny' links, you can't split them into say, 'visit daily' and 'visit weekly', or 'political' and 'general' or 'cartoons' and 'satire'.

    So I wrote my own. Ajaxed. You can re-arrange by dragging folders into folder to your heart's cont
    • I may be missing something, but isn't what you're talking about already possible, and perhaps even better implemented, with Google and del.icio.us? Just throw multiple tags at something - if you want those 20 'funny' links to be further subdivided into 'visit daily', etc - just throw another tag at them. Then, if you want to see all your 'funny visit daily' links, just search for 'funny' AND 'visit daily'.

      This has the added benefit of specialization - you don't have to create "visit daily" subfolders for ev
    • > You can tag a link as 'funny' or put it in the 'funny' folder,
      > but if you have 20 'funny' links, you can't split them into
      > say, 'visit daily' and 'visit weekly', or 'political' and
      > 'general' or 'cartoons' and 'satire'.

      Of course you can. You've obviously never used del.icio.us. It's called a "tag intersection." The syntax is simple:

      http://del.icio.us/skidooooo/funny+history [del.icio.us]
      • Well, ignoring the fact that you obviously don't know what I have and have not tried-

        I'm certainly willing to admit that I just haven't wrapped my brain around how to use tagging to do what I want. I like the idea of being able to throw multiple catagories at something, because that is the problem with hierarchies. In real life, things live in multiple places. On the other hand, you have 268 tags. That seems a bit unwieldy. I guess if they're yours, maybe it's different. Cloud view helps too. It all
    • I've programmed something similar where you can have nested bookmarks, set them private or not, add keywords, etc. But the killer feature is that you can specify how often you want to visit a link (e.g. every 30 days or once a day) and prioritize this list of links which are due to be visited. This is accomplished by giving each link an "Ascent Speed" value, which determines how quick the link will travel to the top of the list. So each link has an "urgency value" which you get by multiplying "how long is t
  • by akmolloy (686919) on Monday January 30, 2006 @02:38AM (#14596651)
    When I first came across delicious, I didn't get it either. So what if it keeps my bookmarks? But now I see it differently. It's a great resource for finding sites that other people have found useful.

    As an example... the other day one of my users asked me if I knew of a good place to get fonts. She said that a lot of the sites she had gone to had all sorts of pop-ups, and some had even put adware in with the supposedly free fonts.

    I had no idea where to tell her to go, so I did what I always do and searched Google. The top few results were rather questionable, and I didn't feel comfortable telling her to got to them.

    So I went to delicious, and type the URL for the tag "font", and then selected the most popular sites with that tag: http://del.icio.us/popular/font [del.icio.us]. This gave me a list of sites, some which had over 3,000 other people tag them. I showed her what I was doing to find the sites, and we both felt like if that many other people found the site useful, then it was probably a safe site to check out.

    On the same lines, there's a great delicious search engine here: http://collabrank.web.cse.unsw.edu.au/del.icio.us/ [unsw.edu.au] which I have been using as much as Google when I want to see sites that people trust.

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