Forget the Royal Wedding, the surprise piece of news that came out this week was that AVOS, a new company formed by YouTube founders, Chad Hurley and Steve Chen has acquired Delicious - the most famous social bookmarking site on the web - which was in the process of being decomissioned by Yahoo.
SEW followed up with AVOS to get more details on the acquisition, but they were unable to comment at this time saying that they were "heads down working hard on the site so we aren't giving interviews at this time". So, what follows is an opinion piece about this tidbit of news. And, if you hadn't guessed form the headline, I am personally very excited about the announcement.
A Potted History
The first time saw Delicious and simply did not understand it. It was an ugly site but there seemed to be something to it as was one of the first sites to creatively use subdomains with the main domain name, to create "http://del.icio.us". Also, it was a site I discovered purely through the 'social web' via blogs and forums, rather than search, and what intrigued me about it was so many of my 'online friends' (this was before Facebook) had an account. At first i started using it as a way to curate content around certain themes and share bookmarks with clients so that they could educate themselves around search engine marketing.
Eventually Delicious became so popular as a method of discovering useful content and curating it for friends that online marketers started to include it as a part of their overall link building and blogging strategy. Along with Technorati it was the beginning of social news and shortly got snapped up by Yahoo.
However, after the Yahoo acquisition Delicious began to wane and it's user interface started to become unwieldy and their social features started to pale in comparison to emerging social news sites, such as Digg, Reddit and now Facebook and Twitter.
So it came as no surprise that there was so much dismay and consternation towards the news that Delicious was on the sunset agenda. Yahoo promptly put out a statement that, in fact, they were not shutting down delicious, but instead intended to sell it. The community concern for Delicious was justified as and as intense as concern for FlickR, as both sites could be said to be cornerstones of making the web even more social.
What Might Chad and Steve Bake Into Delicious?
Given the cultural impact that Delicious has afforded the web, it's great to hear that two web pioneers who have had a massive cultural impact themselves on how and what type of content is consumed online, go back to their roots to take on this project.
The AVOS press release only gives some hints as to what their plans might be:
Their vision for Delicious is to continue to provide the same great service users love and to make the site even easier and more fun to save, share, and discover the web's "tastiest" content...
...The YouTube founders plan to work closely with the community over the next few months to develop innovative features to help solve the problem of information overload. "We see this problem not just in the world of video, but also cutting across every information-intensive media type," said Chen.
So, to hazard a guess, it's worth looking at what other players are doing.
- Google is investing in social search with +1.
- Bing is using search apps to curate the web itself.
- Twitter is trying to be an information network.
- Facebook is trying to be the ultimate demographic targeting platform.
The thread that goes through all of these players' strategy is 'recommendation'. Content leveraged by users for other users.
- Google hopes recommendation will make search less spammy.
- Bing is recommending the best web services to use.
- Twitter's information network relies on personal recommendations.
- Facebook is trying to recommend ads against demographics.
But for recommendation to really work, there needs to be a certain amount of semantic meta data, or meta data that can be applied semantically. Something which, incidentally, Delicious has buckets of.
So, if anyone can get into the game of recommendation and do something different, it's has to be the same team that got the whole world laughing at keyboard cat.