Last week I said that leaving a browser window open to an interesting web page can be a productivity killer. Since then I've been looking for ways to better manage and track all of the interesting stuff I find on the web that I'd eventually like to mention on Operation Gadget or I want to refer to later.
The easiest thing for me to do would be to bookmark all of the pages that I want to remember for later, then close each browser window. However, dropping bookmarks on the desktop or into a toolbar isn't really an answer for much of the work I do.
I think the desktop metaphor works for pages that I need to work with all the time such as Paypal, my bank's on-line banking application, and e-commerce sites such as Amazon.com. The metaphor definitely breaks down for pages to which I will make infrequent reference.
Bookmark management sites like del.icio.us are designed to keep track of those infrequently used but still useful or interesting web pages. I've never gotten into using del.icio.us, however, because I couldn't comprehend the home page and didn't see the personal organizational benefits.
I don't honestly remember where I stumbled across del.icio.us direc.tor, but John Udell wrote the kind of description of it that caused me to give del.icio.us direc.tor a try:
The top item today in my experimental del.icio.us affinity feed is del.icio.us director, an alternate interface to del.icio.us from the the guy who created the Gmail agent API last summer, Johnvey Hwang.... It loads your del.icio.us bookmarklets into the browser and creates powerful new modes of navigation and search.
I saw the potential power of bookmark tagging in a screenshot like the one I've included in this story, so I created a del.icio.us account for myself and started migrating the bookmarks out of my browser and into it.
Probably the most confusing aspect of del.icio.us direc.tor is the fact that you have to be on a del.icio.us page before you can invoke it. This has to do with del.icio.us director's nature as a client-side web service broker. I understand that it capitalizes on a del.icio.us API and creates an alternative AJAX-based interface between your browser (Firefox or IE) and del.icio.us. Beyond that, it's easier for me to focus on what del.icio.us direc.tor does rather than how it does it.
When I'm done migrating my bookmarks over to del.icio.us, I'll only have links to frequently-used web applications left in my Firefox bookmark toolbar. I will have a separate place where I can keep bookmarks that can be retrieved by searching for them according to keywords.
I've come to the conclusion I am more productive when I find a definite place to keep things that I need to use or refer to again in the future. This type of organizational system can work in the physical world (clean desk) and in the electronic world (clean desktop). For the moment del.icio.us and del.icio.us director are part of my organizational system. I will try to report back in a couple of weeks on how well they are working as a personal bookmark management solution.