Blackboard’s Social Bookmarking Service

This looks to be a new social bookmarking service launched by Blackboard. The difference from existing services like Well, not much, as far as I can tell, except that it is aimed solely at Blackboard and WebCT customers (non-customers can search the site and find links, but not contribute). So why would you use this? Presumably Blackboard had enough existing customers ask them for a social bookmarking facility that was integrated with their Blackboard accounts which they could “safely” use with their students.

I am sure they will get demonized for this. Me, sure I’d love to see systems that instead of creating additional silos and enclaves allowed users to move in an authenticated form from the institution’s systems to ones out on the general web, you know, have my cake and eat it too. But the customers (that’s you, right) have got to demand this, not expect vendors whose whole business model is ‘lock in’ to simply just provide it. And the sad fact of the matter is that none of the internet-wide identity plays seem really up to this. Yet. This is one place where Open Source could make a huge difference, as introducing new features there does not have to be limited solely by the focus on profits. You’d think. Yet for some reason I still can’t get a simple OpenID plugin for WordPress. The pundits are right, identity will be big in 2007. But without the move of some major market shaker towards one of the ‘open’ approaches, don’t be surprised if it’s a continuation of the silo arms race between the bigs (read Google, Yahoo and MSN, not Blackboard) instead of a signle sign on paradise that results. – SWL

UPDATE: Blackboard have updated their blog with more details on this initiative, some of which is reminiscent of the EduGlu conversation. Does this mean we can sue them now 😉

Familiar Taste – Greasemonkey script to help you remember what you’ve tagged

So after about the 100th time of trying to tag a site in that I’d already tagged before (early onset alzheimer’s?!? More likely the effects of my misspent youth), I thought to myself “Someone has got to have already built something that queries in the background and lets you know if you’ve already tagged a page.” And sure enough, someone had, using Greasemonkey.

This script (great name!) displays a small piece of text on the screen with the tags you used (and optionally, how many other folks have tagged it to) on any page you visit that is already in your links and then gently fades away (the fade time can be configured). I use the extension for Firefox already, and this would seem like a natural addition they could build into it, but until then, this script does exactly what I want. – SWL

Why doesn’t suck (but I do, and Firefox Quicksearch definitely doesn’t!)

O.k., so while I still think it sucks that I can’t currently import my old bookmarks into, Greg Ritter (yes, that Greg Ritter, he’s still alive, just lurking but not blogging) quite reasonably pointed out that there is no time like the present to make the shift to, and that the lack of an import feature doesn’t need to be reason not to. He recommended just starting to use it regularly, and then setting up a quicksearch shortcut in Firefox to my FURL collection. It’s not perfect (something that quickly searched across both collections would be even better) but as an interim solution until the cats at fix their import feature, it seems pretty good. (Though if it wasn’t obvious, my post was less a cry for a workaround and more a public challenge to to get off their duffs and fix this!) Still, thanks Greg, as the Firefox quicksearch feature is a nice suggestion in and of itself. – SWL

Why sucks

That got your attention, didn’t it. Actually, it doesn’t suck at all, in fact my complaint is that I want to use because of all the cool tie-ins it has spawned, but I am not going to abandon 18 months worth of FURL’d links, and refuses to fix their import feature. There has been a message on the import page for for going on at least 4 months that says “Our import feature has been turned off for a few days while we fix some bugs. Sorry!” and the reply I got to my email back in November was “Should be done soon. We are removing the last final bugs.” Gee, thanks. If there is anything worse than not responding to potential customers, its responding to potential customers and lying to them.

Maybe this is what a rapid infusion of cash does to a company. Oh well, I guess this is what I get for backing the wrong horse in the first place, but sheesh, they’re only links, how hard should it be to export and then import these things? – SWL