The original headline for this article hit me last week in a post-Turkey haze… laying on the couch… staring at the ceiling in the living room — “Why Del.icio.us is more important than Google“. Let’s hear it for SENSATIONALISM! Woo-hoo!
It’s hard to compare the two… one is a web service and the other is a company, but they do have a common goal — they strive to manage the endless pile of information that is the Web. They are both viewed as doing a successful job of this as measured by their ability to provide their users with relevant information… quickly.
I believe where Del.icio.us succeeds that Google does not is buzz latency. Like weblogs, Del.icio.us’s social bookmarking system does a fine job of identifying buzz quickly. A quick glance of the popular page and you get a pretty clear idea what Del.icio.us’s 30k+ community cares about.
Yes, Google indexes 8 billion pages and, yes, it serves up the results of queries to those indicies to, well, The Planet Earth, but Google chews on their large bites of the web relatively slowly. A monthly Zeitgeist reports tells me what The Planet Earth cares about, but I could pretty much guess that the most popular retail query on Google was Ebay. I was surprised that the #2 male celebrity query was Matt Drudge, but I don’t actually care.
I do care that Joel on Software is gathering the Best Software Essays of 2004. I’m also oddly interested in how to fold a shirt… free graph paper you say? Well, sure. These are topics I learn about from my anonymous del.icio.us peers… and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Del.icio.us more important than Google? Nah. It’s an AND, it’s not an OR. Can’t really write that article, so a different tact. We know there are several thousands Googlers in Mountain View… what about Del.icio.us?
Joshua Schachter is the decidedly low-profile author of Del.icio.us and he graciously agreed be interviewed via email.
RANDS: At whatever level of detail you prefer, what have you been up to since you graduated from Carnegie Mellon?
JOSHUA: I spend most of my time pressing the buttons in front of the big glowing thing. Occasionally, gunfire is heard.
From outward appearances, del.icio.us is the work of a single person… you… is this the case?
I do all the coding and other heavy lifting, but a cast of thousands contribute ideas.
Given there appears to be no revenue generated by your projects, how do you afford to eat?
I have a day job. I only work on del.icio.us one evenings and weekends. It’s not that expensive, just rack space and ALL MY SPARE TIME.
Do you expect to have to charge for del.icio.us at some point?
I don’t think charging is realistic. I probably could put ads on it to cover the bandwidth costs. I’m not really trying to make a business, just have fun.
Where did the idea for del.icio.us come from?
I had built a single-user bookmark system a few years ago. It had tags but otherwise wasn’t a lot like the current system.
I’d like to nominate del.icio.us for “Best Use of a Non-Dot-Com Name” — is there a deeping meaning to the name?
Not really. I’d registered the domain when .us opened the registry, and a quick test showed me the six letter suffixes that let me generate the most words.
In early discussions, a friend refered to finding good links as “eating cherries” and the metaphor stuck, I guess.
I somewhat regret using the domain name, because it’s almost impossible to discuss or verify without sounding silly. I’ll probably have to rename it at some point, presumably as something ending in -ster or -zilla or whatever.
From looking at del.icio.us from the outside, it appears you first design an architecture, throw it out in the wild, and then continue iteratively developing based off community feedback.