I’m fascinated with the way that a bunch of old ideas floating around from the dot com era are back, and now succeeding. Many of these apps are explicitly social, and are benefitting from the larger user population and increased comfort — it took quite a while for Match.com to catch on, and sixdegrees had much of the Friendster model down by 1996 and flamed out anyway.
One really interesting category of these v 2.0 apps is shared bookmarking, a la the service Backflip from Back in the Day. So, with a minimum of editorializing, here is a list of places doing some form of shared link management, which are providing some of Tom Coates’ “user-friendly throw-aroundable clumps of groupness.”
Stumble Upon (Cross-platform toolbar; explicit user rating [added 7/23])
Add more in the comments if you know of any, and I’ll amend the list here.
My personal recommendation is del.icio.us. If I had to sum up the Web’s effects on the world, I’d say “surprised by simplicity.” Unlike most other technologies, we’re witnessing a shift to simpler apps over time, as with the way million dollar CMS systems and collaboration via Lotus Notes shifts to weblogs and wikis. del.icio.us hits that same pattern — not a single wasted feature, it just works the way the Web does.
And my anti-recomendation is Amplify. Using it, I had a horrible flashback to the bad old days of Backflip, where the idea was the the user would store their links on Backflip, who would then make it almost impossible for the user to get at those links in aggregate, to store a copy locally, or to get to their links should Backflip be down.
Amplify is that same terrible idea — your links are stored as “Amps,” and everything you click is an uninformative Amp redirect, so even if you get to a page with a link on it, you can’t copy the URL without also visiting the link, and then, when you do visit an “Amp” (always mistrust people who try to re-brand key parts of the Web) it’s in a frame, so that you can’t easily share it without also sending the recipient through Amplify.
And, as the glistening maraschino cherry on the towering sundae of badness, the categories are pre-fab rather than user created, and there are even 14 of them, the Yahoo-official number of top level categories.
I suppose the flipside of the “everything old is new again” pattern is that the old bad ideas get a re-play as well as the old but good ones. I can’t imagine why anyone would hand their links over to Amplify — the info-to-eye-candy ratio on the pages is at PowerPoint levels, and the “we’ll capture the users eyeballs and hold them hostage” link model, already broken in the mid-90s, has now been superseded by things like del.icio.us and Bookmarkmanager. Grrrr.