Research, Bookmarking and Annotations Go Social on Diigo
Diigo has been around for quite a while, from what I can tell, but I only found out about it today. The occasion? Quite a few reviews on their version 3 release to potential users around the world. Given what seemed to be a general buzz, I wanted to sign up and play with it for a while, to see the hundreds of cool features everyone was talking about.
The home page I got to wasn’t all that impressive. Maybe because the green-blue-light brown combination never agreed with me, maybe because the displayed all that boring text on top. Or maybe it’s all the scrolling required to get to see the entire page that failed to impress me. I was still pretty intrigued by what they had to offer, but I am not the common visitor.
Given my profession and my personal interests, I want to keep up with what’s new and can be tagged as social. Yet I very much doubt those driven by the hype will never leave after this welcome. All snapshots I’ve seen are of the inside world of Diigo, which is a lot less boring and unattractive. The homepage, or at least the first glance you see when loading it in your browser is a tad bit disappointing.
I then moved on to creating my account. It went rather smoothly up to the account activation. After having the email resent and giving it another hour, I decided something had to be wrong. So I did what Diigo advised, contacted them! I checked my email after a few minutes, and there it was: the email announcing me my account has been activated and I could log in and continue my discovery quest. I can wholeheartedly tell you they’ve gained quite a lot of points with that customer service demonstration! The speed and the quick solution made me not care their explanation to what happened wasn’t that clear.
Diigo says they highlight the web. So I tried that first, after installing the toolbar and launching the sidebar. They are not the first service to offer clip notes. About a year ago, I was still playing with some Google notes plug-in that always returned errors, was quite Spartan, yet hard to toy with. But their annotation system is way better, their system to track clips is much more advanced and they do allow sharing and recommending.
Judging by these first features I tried out and the bookmarking system (which was second), I can tell Diigo is a great help for those researching, documenting and finding resources together. Teamwork is a lot easier than through mailing lists and discussion groups.
I also found something event planners and attendants will love. And this was by mistake. When bookmarking a link which happened to be of a certain event I’ll attend and adding a notes and tags to it, a ‘This link” tab caught my eye. I had to click it (DeeDee, don’t press the buuuuuutttooooooooooon!). It shows who else has visited the site, who else on Diigo that is, and what else they’ve bookmarked. So I’d say it’s a little easier to befriend those attending an event and set a meeting then let’s say…asking a question on LinkedIn and waiting for people to answer.
If you’re working solo and need to compare notes with someone, there are groups for almost everything. And if you can’t find the exact group you’re interested in, you can always start your own. You can even create it while bookmarking a site and realizing you have no group to share it with. You can send links or clips to Twitter or Facebook, and if that’s not enough for the social networker in you, Diigo comes with its own set of people like you, comment walls and message exchange.
If you’re using Diigo just to bookmark sites and network, I think it is a little too complicated and you might drop it as it will turn out to require quite some time to learn all the moves. But if you’re doing research or gathering resources for a paper, post or book and not alone in this endeavor, Diigo is probably the answer to your prayers. If it’s a project you’re working on alone, I still think you should give you a try. It’s not the easiest thing to make full use of all its features, but there is no clearer way to categorize, annotate and review your material.
I think Diigo has great potential and if it focuses on highlights, bookmarking and sharing, with a twist of social network interoperability it has good chances of living up to that potential. It’s worth getting an account, learning what it can do and then making up your own mind about it.
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