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Top 10 Ways to Use del.icio.us

Top 10 Ways to Use del.icio.us
del.icio.us

Del.icio.us is an excellent system for archiving your favorite information from across the Net, tracking hot topics, and discovering new and useful sites. The power of del.icio.us comes in the form of it’s “collective intelligence”, which is constantly adding, reviewing, and filtering new information.

The community of del.icio.us allows you to find some of the best resources on the Internet without having to trudge through all of the junk.

It also gives you a centralized management system for organizing information from around the Net. However, many people are unaware of it’s complete list of features and valuable add-ons.
Here are 10 ways that you can use del.icio.us to its full potential.

1. Del.icio.us Firefox Extension
Del.icio.us Firefox Extension should be the number-one del.icio.us tool on your list. It allows you to quickly and easily add sites you like to del.icio.us with a bookmarklet. This tool puts a “My del.icio.us” button at the top of your browser, allowing you to view your save pages at the click of a button.

It also adds a “Tag this” button to the top of your browser, which allows you to bookmark websites while you’re browsing the Web.

If you use Internet Explorer, download this Internet Explorer Extension.

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This Firefox Extension has saved me tons of keyboard time.

2. Desktop Shortcut for Delicious
Having to visit the del.icio.us website each time you want to access your bookmarks can be a time-consuming process. Why not plug your bookmarks into your desktop for easy access. You can do this with Delwin for Windows and Delibar for the Mac.

3. Increase Your Search Powers.
There are a variety of ways to search del.icio.us.

To view bookmarks tagged with a specific keyword, type in:
http://del.icio.us/tag/keyword

To view bookmarks tagged with two or more keywords, type in:
http://del.icio.us/tag/keyword+keyword

So for example, if I wanted to look for sites about organization and GTD, I would type in:
http://del.icio.us/tag/organization+GTD

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If I wanted to narrow the search even further, I could include four terms:
http://del.icio.us/tag/organization+GTD+office+tools

If you are looking for the most popular sites in any category, than simply type in:
http://del.icio.us/rss/popular/TAGNAME

So if you are trying to find the most popular sites related to GTD, you would type in:
http://del.icio.us/rss/popular/GTD

4. Bookmark from Google Reader
If you’re a fan of Google Reader, then you’ll definitely want to start using Google Reader + del.icio.us. This is a Greasemonkey script that puts an “add to del.icio.us” button at the bottom of each post in Google Reader. With a single click, you will be able to transfer interesting posts from Google Reader into your del.icio.us bookmark collection.

5. Bundle Your Tags
Does your tag cloud look like a huge, disorganized mess. Bundle those tags into related categories for easy access. To organize your tags into bundles, click on the “Settings” link in the top right-hand corner.

From this page, click on “bundle tags” under the tags heading and start creating your own bundles.

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Of course, if you’re not into the whole bundling idea, then you can always just use the search box in the upper right hand corner of del.icio.us.

If you want to limit your search to specific tags, then use the prefix “tag:”. An example for all you productivity junkies might be “tag:gtd”.

6. Newsmasher

Here’s a cool Greasemonkey script called Newsmasher that places a small “del.icio.us” tag on the upper left corner of your browser. When clicked, a small window appears displaying what del.icio.us users are writing about the page you are viewing.

This is a great way to get some quick feedback on any website you’re visiting. Quickly find out if people are giving it a virtual “thumbs up” or “thumbs down”.

7. Use the Inbox
Navigate to http://del.icio.us/inbox. Here you can subscribe to various tags or specific users. This is an excellent way to discover new sites that you may enjoy. It almost reminds me a bit of StumbleUpon. Based on the preferences you submit, you will be given a flow of new items to check out.

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8. A variety of del.icio.us Uses
You can use del.icio.us in a number of exciting and interesting ways. Here are a few examples
to get you started:

  • Bookmark movies you want to see
  • Travel planning
  • Bookmark books you want to read
  • Bookmark things you want to blog about
  • Research

9. Publish Your del.icio.us Bookmarks on Your Website.
In addition to all that, you can also share your latest del.icio.us bookmarks on your websites for all of your readers to enjoy. You can do this using Linkrolls and Tagrolls.

Linkrolls display your latest del.icio.us bookmarks while tagrolls display all of your del.icio.us tags in a tag cloud.

You can see these unique features in action at this blog . His bookmarks are on the left and his tags are on the right.

10. Creative Tagging
My final tip is based on a bit of creative tagging. For my most important tags, I place an “@” in front of them. This moves them up to the very top of my tag list. So, for example, for books that I want to read in the future, I have a tag labeled @books. This simple trick allows me to place my most important tags at the very top of the tag list.

If you know of any other del.icio.us tips, please add them in the comments.

Kim Roach is a productivity junkie who blogs regularly at The Optimized Life. Read her articles on 50 EssentialGTD Resources, How to Have a 46 Hour Day, Do You Need
a Braindump
, What They Don’t Teach You in School, andFree Yourself From the Inbox.

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard. Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

Curiosity

Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

Patience

Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

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When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

A Feeling for Connectedness

This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

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1. Research

Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

Learning the Basics

Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

Hitting the Books

Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

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Long-Term Reference

While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

2. Practice

Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

3. Network

One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

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These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

4. Schedule

For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

Final Thoughts

In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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