Delicious, the social-bookmarking service owned by Yahoo, has unveiled home page changes that are intended to do a better job of showcasing links that are currently popular. Although Delicious isn't sharing the exact details of its algorithm, it apparently includes using the number of Twitter messages related to a given item.
Writing on the Delicious blog, Vik Singh, an architect at Yahoo, writes that "For this new Fresh homepage, our system displays recently bookmarked links and tweeted messages focused mostly on technology, web, politics, and media. Underneath the hood, Fresh factors several features into the ranking like related bookmark and tweet counts, "eats our own dogfood" by leveraging BOSS to filter for high quality results, as well as stitches tweets to related articles even if the tweets do not provide matching URLs."
The issue that Delicious is trying to address here is that the existing "Popular Bookmarks" tab (which will continue to be available) tends to point to what Singh describes as "authoritative resources rather than fresh news." This is because, although Delicious is often described as a social-bookmarking service, in fact, many use it primarily as a way to store bookmarks online solely for their own purposes. And, in fact, Delicious even introduced private tags in 2007 that made it possible to save bookmarks without sharing.
Not everyone is happy about the change. Delicious founder Joshua Schacter, who left Yahoo last year (and is now at Google) writes on Twitter that "I can't BELIEVE delicious did integration with other social networks before finishing with its own." He adds that "i had always wanted delicious to show notes from your social network on the links that you bookmark."
Social bookmarking has often seemed like rather the red-haired stepchild of social media. Its evolution in general has been slow and there's long been a tension between bookmarking to share and bookmarking to store.
In general, social bookmarking services have also failed to surface the data that they have stored in ways that allow for useful and serendipitous exploration. This latest announcement tries to do something about that by making use of data from Twitter, a service that's all about the now.