Delicious and other Services – Have a Backup Plan?

So last week, some of you probably heard that the service was possibly being – their term – “sunset.” Then they announced that it wasn’t, and that they hope to find another home for the service outside of Yahoo.

My library doesn’t use Delicious for our website – but some libraries rely pretty heavily on the service for things like a linkroll. I know of more than one library who replaced in-house reference web link databases with the Delicious service. I’m guessing a couple of us were scrambling around, looking for alternatives (Diigo is one good one that I’m familiar with), and figuring out how to export their links out of Delicious.

Here’s what I’m interested in – how much do we depend on these third party services for essential parts of our website? Delicious is one example … what if Yahoo decided to do the same thing to Flickr, or if Google decided to do that to Youtube or even their Google Accounts (many organizations have switched their email/storage/messaging systems to Google from hosting them in-house)?

There are definitely alternatives to most of these services, and I’m not sure that dumping content into one primary service and one “just in case” backup service is worthy of our time (though I personally do that with my Flickr photos). And honestly, I’m not sure that people who read my blog would have that much trouble finding alternatives (I know my library wouldn’t, anyway).

But what about understaffed, or smaller libraries that don’t have dedicated web dudes? For example, Topeka could easily build a links database – we have those skills in-house. But many libraries and organizations don’t have those skillsets, which is one reason why they chose a 3rd party tool in the first place – free/cheap and easy. And 3rd party tools are great – I certainly don’t want to store and host all the videos Topeka creates on an in-house server.

I think one way to tackle this is to simply be vigilant:

  • stay up-to-date on web tools by trying them out, reading about them, etc
  • pick the best tool at the time – look for features and stability – ok, and awesomeness :-)
  • switch services when the next, better tool comes around – instead of waiting until one service closes its doors

That’s one way to deal with it – are there others?

pic by Ronn Ashore

  • Ryan Deschamps

    I think that it’s good to point out that using third party services like delicious is not all that much different than using an open source ‘widget’ for your content management system, or even building one yourself. Even core products can be sun-setted or old versions unsupported and then you are stuck fixing, patching, replacing etc.. In short, the delicious announcement should pretty much be seen as ‘business as usual’ for web librarians – it’s nothing to panic about.

    In general, 2010/11 is going to be the era of all those lovely ‘free’ services turning into ‘for pay’ ones. Or they will begin to include more ads. That’s really the big story. The days of ‘you can do all this cool stuff for free’ presentations that were so common in 2006-2008 are over. Delicious doesn’t really lend itself to a revenue model I think. I can’t imagine people paying to have a company store their bookmarks for them. Other than making it easy for me to share my websites with others, I don’t find I go back to Delicious for information.

  • davidleeking

    Good points, Ryan! And you’re right – not really that much different from,
    say, using WordPress. The next couple of years should be pretty interesting

  • B Rudnick

    I explored bookmarking services pretty thoroughly or so I thought before deciding that delicious did exactly what I wanted: allow me to add, describe, and especially catalog links in real time. It won’t do for me to have these bookmarks associated with any of my personal, say Google accounts…. and I have yet to identify a satisfactory equivalent…

  • Anonymous

    Three points are unnecessary; one suffices: ‘never use any service which will not let you export your data’.

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