RIP Delicious, Hello Pinboard

I’ve used delicious since January 2006, and in the nearly 5 years since then, I saved over 2700 bookmarks on the service. Last week, it came to light that Yahoo had ominously placed it in a “sunset” category, and like many people, I quickly jumped ship to

The leaked slide was initially unconfirmed, but I had switched before the news had even really graduated from rumour to news. A post a couple of days later on the delicous blog confirmed that the rumors were kind-of true, but that Yahoo would not, in fact, be shutting down the service, merely “moving it on”. Nonetheless, #deliciousexodus happened at such a pace, that most of my existing delicious network is already up and running on pinboard, which dealt with the sudden influx of users remarkably well, and once the shift had happened, it was done. There was something impressive about the sudden, unplanned movement, en-mass, from one service to another.

A couple of things.

Quite a few people have spoken about how the demise of delicious sounds the death knell for trusting the cloud, for trusting your data to somebody else’s servers, somebody else’s business plan. But to me, at least, it doesn’t really change anything. Just as before, your data (bookmarks, photos, documents…) on the internet (“in the cloud”) can never be trusted to always be around, but equally, can never be assumed fully erased if you try to get rid of them. Never to be trusted, and never to be wiped away completely.

I really like pinboard, so far. Yes, there are a couple of features from delicious I miss (particularly a slightly more evolved social side, although I know it’s a conscious choice), but in stark contrast to delicious, you really get the feeling that it’s in active development – the founders are there, involved, responsive (an email to them was dealt with within a couple of hours), and that it will evolve over time. It’s fast, it works smoothly, and every feature is considered and carefully implemented. So far, so good.

Something that pinboard seems to take perhaps even further than delicious, is what I like to think of as being a humble and quiet service. It doesn’t really do anything, it mostly sits there, quietly waiting. It doesn’t shout. It doesn’t get jealous, it doesn’t try to interfere with anything else you want to do. And when called upon, it’s hugely, amazingly useful. It does something simple, and it does it well, and without fuss, with features when you need them, and not very much else. That’s something more services (online and otherwise) could learn from. It’s also something I’d like to explore more from the perspective of a designer and especially through the lens of service design, and maybe design education. Another post, another day.

My only gripes so far with pinboard is the undeveloped nature of the social side of the service, although, to be fair, it is quite explicitly described as an introverted service. Still, the lack of a for: tag or equivalent – no way to send members of your network a link – or a simple way to find people to add to your network feels unnecessarily overly introverted to me. And on a related note, it’s frustrating to see how many people have added you to their network (in other words, follow what you bookmark), but have no way of knowing who. I’d rather not know how many at all, or I want to know who.

I used delicious, and now pinboard, initially for purely selfish reasons. It’s an extremely efficient way of letting me outsource my memory; it’s a place I can put stuff I’ve read, and know I can find and get it back out again when I remember it, need it, want to reference it, or want to send it to somebody. But beyond that – and this went more for delicious than for pinboard – I also used the social side. I like being able to send somebody a link, without any extra effort, but also in the knowledge that it was arriving at the other end unassumingly. Unlike an email or an IM message, that demanded to be read (and now), a link tagged for: never interrupted anybody, could always be ignored, and somehow hit just the right note of “saw this, thought of you; your call if you want to look or not”. Over the last year or so, I’ve also found that simply keeping track of what my network had recently bookmarked worked almost like a lower-volume, higher signal-to-noise-ratio version of my RSS reader (and, interestingly, tended to cover slightly different topics, too). There’s something interesting, from a service design perspective, to building something that works perfectly well on a purely individual level, but grows in value as you start exploring the social sides of the service (both actively and passively social). Something that is both a standalone product, and a (networked) service.

So long Delicious. It’s been a real pleasure, and I’m sorry for how it ended.

Hello Pinboard – I look forward to good times ahead.

From now on, my bookmarks live here:  See you there.

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