One of the more useful things that we do to collaborate inside Atlassian is use a group del.icio.us feed to share bookmarks to everyone else in the company. On their first day, every employee signs up for at least two different feeds: the staff-blogs feed and the shared bookmarks feed from Delicious.
Social bookmarking is useful first because it’s bookmarking: a simple way to save something for yourself and come back to it later, but stored on the web and not tied into a specific browser on one machine.
But social bookmarking is even more useful because it’s social. It becomes one of those magical, shared attention filters. Everyone in the company runs across interesting and useful material in the course of their daily travels on the internet, and by adding a bookmark to the group feed, we’re each able to quickly and easily bring that good material to the attention of the whole group.
We use for many different purposes. We flag mentions of our products in the press. We mark interesting blogs. We keep tabs on other products in our market. We send around useful development links about techniques or technology.
No one person is responsible for reading every word that gets written about us, but by distributing the task to everyone, the good stuff rises to the top where the whole group can see it.
We’ve found it tremendously useful, and I’ve learned a great deal from the links that have found their way into our shared feed. Atlassian has used Delicious to great affect, but we started thinking about how our customers might want to use it. And that presented some problems.
Security is the first major concern. Some companies are not comfortable posting information like this out on the web. Some people might be uncomfortable with other folks seeing they are reading. In a similar vein, your can’t link to resources behind the firewall without exposing those locations on the public web.
There have also been lots of times where someone has posted a link that merited further discussion, but there hasn’t been a way to facilitate that. We wanted a comment thread on the bookmark to provide additional context.
We use the social filter can help us pull out valuable content from the overwhelming tide of information on the public net. But someone in a large company could use the same technique to filter out valuable content from their very own wiki. So we wanted to enable and encourage that behaviour by solving the security problem and by putting the bookmarks behind the firewall, and in context.
So we wrote the Social Bookmarking Plugin.

  • You can add a bookmark to any space.
  • There’s a javascript bookmarklet to make it easy.
  • You can label bookmarks.
  • You can label bookmarks for other people using ‘for_jnolen’, for example.
  • You can get a feed of bookmarks, filtered by space, tag or person.
  • You can use the {bookmarks} macro to insert lists of bookmarks into other pages.
  • We also added one nice feature: since bookmarks are actually special pages, they can have comments.

Check out the homepage for more detail about how it all works. We’d love to get your feedback on whether this fits your needs, and what further directions we might want to take it.

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