Truthfully, that’s what I felt like.  I’m so enamoured with Delicious that it felt like I was cheating when I decided to check out Furl, another well-known social bookmarking site.  Despite my guilty conscience, I tried to give Furl my fullest attention so that I could make an honest comparison between the two bookmarking sites.  I wondered as I checked out Furl whether it was so different from Delicious that I would want to have both or were they similar enough that one social bookmarking site would suffice. 

To be honest, I had never heard of Furl before I read about it in Will Richardson’s book. According to Richardson, there are many social bookmarking sites but Furl and Delicious “have come to the forefront of the pack” (Blogs, Wikis and Podcasts, p. 93).   In an article reviewing Furl for Online magazine (May/June 2005, 29(3), 64. Available on the Proquest Database), author Mary Ellen Bates writes: “While Furl is not the only game in town, I have found its interface and features to be among the best.”  So based on that recommendation, I decided to create my own Furl account to see what all the fuss was about.

 

From what I can tell after trying out both sites, Furl is different (with my thoughts in brackets) from Delicious in that it:

  • Requires an email to create an account and users must be at least13 years of age to hold an account (not great for younger students and those without email);
  • Creates a cached copy of the site (which is important if a link disappears);
  • Uses keywords instead of tags (but really, what’s the difference except in terminology?);
  • Creates “topic folders” (isn’t this the same as creating tagging bundles?; these topic folders are found in a separate dropdown box rather than listed on the side so it keeps the dashboard clean);
  • Rates the websites according to the Furl account holder (that’s fun);
  • Can mark each file private or public and users can mark them read or not (helps to keep it organized, manageable and private, if desired);
  • Allows the account holder to subscribe to specific topic folders of other groups through an RSS feed (see what others are researching);  subscribers can choose to get an email when sites are added (keeps you easily updated but I really don’t like my email to get too overwhelming);
  • Has a separate space for comments and clippings (the capacity to hold more information about the site, can aid research);
  • Can send an email of the selected website to whomever the account holder wants (can customize which sites are good for whom);
  • Can create a reference list of all sources used (students, both young and old, have to love this feature).

So, are these enough important differences for me to use Furl as well as Delicious?  Could I do this easily?  Would I use Furl in a different way in the classroom?  Quite honestly, my answer to all three questions is “no.”  There are a few features like being able to see the topic lists of other Furl members when bookmarking the same site without knowing their user names, Furl being able to create a reference list in MLA style and being able to write comments and clips of the sites but really these differences are not that significant to make me want to switch over or even have both.

 

I could see myself using Furl the same way in the classroom as I’d use Delicious – primarily as a place for me, my staff and my students to store and share our favourite websites for teaching and learning purposes. To check this out further, I decided to create two pathfinders (a way I mentioned I might use a social bookmarking site in my first post) on Internet safety to see if there were any significant differences.   It was simple on both sites to tag and store the websites I found on Internet safety.  The only difference being that the tag in Delicious is listed along with all the other tags on the left hand side of the page and the topic for Internet safety has to be selected from a dropdown box in “All Topics” in the Furl site.  I was able to annotate all the websites I chose for both sites and I could send other teachers or students these websites if I wanted to quite easily.  The only difference between my pathfinders is that I can set my Furl account to private so that no one else can view it.  This might be useful in the classroom if students or staff wanted to create their own private spaces.

To see how it worked differently from Delicious, I created a User Group on Furl.  If you’ve got a Furl account, I’d invite you to join my group called web2_0learners.  With the click of a button from my own Furl archive, I could easily add my favorite websites to this group.  Although it’s set up differently, the groups work in much the same way as Delicious’ networks – if you’re interested in a group’s topic, you can join and subscribe to it (Furl); if you’re interested in what someone else is tagging, you can join their network  and subscribe to the tags (Delicious).

 

Even if I wanted to, could I use both sites easily? According to Will Richardson, there is a way around having to tag items in separate social bookmarking sites.  He writes: “With just one click, you can save a particular link to Furl and Delicious and over a dozen other social bookmarking sites that you may choose to use” (p. 100). To check this out, I followed his link to Alan Levine’s Multipost Bookmarklet Tool.  Unfortunately this link was no longer active but I did find a similar site where Levine has created a “multipost bookmarklet tool” application.   For the life of me, however, I couldn’t get it to work – there just weren’t enough directions for me.  I also tried another bookmarklet tool called Bummy  but it was way out of my technical expertise, as well, so I just gave up in frustration. 

 

As I was examining Furl, I saw that there is supposed to be a way to import your Delicous bookmarks to your Furl account.  Apparently I should be able to select my Delicious bookmarks and clicking upload but I eventually gave up in frustration.  Does anyone know how this is done?  I can upload my files but I don’t know how to save my exported Delicious bookmarks into a file that I can import into Furl.  Bahh……another frustrating experience.

 

One of the things that really disturbed me about Furl was that my computer refused to let me paste the Furl icon on the toolbar because it said that there was a virus attached to the program.  Yikes, that’s completely scary to me.

 

In the end, I figure if the Delicous account is working for me, my staff and my students, I don’t want to confuse the issue and add another site.  It’s difficult enough to get my staff to understand the concept of one social bookmarking site let alone add another to the mix.  Quite frankly, I don’t have time to be tagging websites to multiple sites when one will suffice so I think I will stay and try to master one social bookmarking system for now.  At least that way, I don’t have to feel like I’m cheatin’ on anyone. 

 

Welcome back, my Delicious, I’ve missed you!

 

p.s. I’d recommend you stay away from Jots.com that Richardson mentions on page 100.  Apparently Jots is supposed to combine the best of both worlds – Delicious and Furl but when I went to the site, there was a picture of a naked lady on the homepage.  I sure hope that didn’t bring a pop-up virus into my computer!!!!

 

p.p.s.  I discovered a powerful del.icio.us bookmark search engine today.  It’s called del.izzy  and it lets you search through all the page content of your Delicious bookmarks, including title, description and page content rather than just by the tags, titles and descriptions.  Hmm…maybe this is just one more reason to stick with just one site.

 

 Clip Art from Microsoft Clipart

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