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The death of Delicious and speculating on tech longevity

Crap. Or even something stronger.

Yahoo announced that Delicious, my favorite, much used and long promoted social bookmarking tool is going away. (Or maybe not.) Yeah, I know there is always Diigo and Google Bookmarks, but Delicious was both simple and powerful enough for most of us.

And I now may need to already re-write a small section of the draft of my book.

Writing a book about technology is a tricky business. Can it be specific enough to be useful, but not so specific that it is dated before it hits the shelves? (My goal is that the book can get to be 5-7 years old before it becomes embarrassing. Because of datedness, not the writing that is.)

One thing I have been doing is using the generic terms for technology tools. For example:

  • Social bookmarking sites, not Delicious
  • Word processing software, not Word
  • Online productivity tools, not GoogleDocs

and then just giving a couple examples of specific products. One can hope readers five years down the road can make a leap from the generic term to current product. (Or maybe everything will just be owned by Google - Googlicious?)

I've also been attempting to predict which tools are more than a flash-in-the-pan. I've been using word processing software for 30 years. I think it is safe to say that in some form or another it will be around for the next 10. It would really honk me off as a time-stressed teacher to put a lot of time into a tool that won't serve me for a very long time.

I'm curious to know what technologies and applications the brilliant readers of the Blue Skunk predict will still be a part of the educational scene in, say, 2016, in some version. In addition to the tools I listed above, my bets are on:

  • Social networking tools
  • Course management software
  • E-mail
  • Blogs and wikis
  • Spreasheets, presentation and drawing programs
  • Digital cameras, still and video - perhaps merged - and editing software
  • Portable computing devices (netbooks, laptops, tablets, smartphones)

What do you see in your crystal ball?

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Reader Comments (10)

Maybe a catalog that we universally search and use, tagging books, videos, resources with our school names (probably not Follett's Destiny). I suppose this could happen. I mean with the transformation of school libraries as we know them, why shouldn't the catalogs morph themselves into a more universal and shared format? Just think-no more purchasing marc record, but rather paying a subscription to utilize the universal ones. No more bad records. But along that line too, no more creative cataloging. Cant have everything.

December 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCathy Nelson

The issue isn't what kinds of applications will go away. It is simply, what commercial services have no real business model?

December 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTom Hoffman

In my post on the same topic, I said that in five years I would hope terms like “blog”, “wiki”, and “social bookmarking” disappear in favor of the much simpler concept of sharing information online, regardless of content or format. Hopefully, by then we’ll also accept the reality that somebody needs to pay something to make it happen.

I would also hope that we will drop the idea of a "computer" (which still means a beige box on a desk to most people over 40) and realize that the primary purpose of the devices most of us use is communications, not computing.

December 19, 2010 | Unregistered Commentertimstahmer

2016 seems so far a way... As for my prediction, I have to wonder what applications we will be relying on via our home television sets? With the next round of Internet coming to our flat screens (3d?), technologies like Kinect or Wii, along with virtual computing I have to wonder how a convergence of these technologies will effect education?

December 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJen Hegna

This post almost gave me a heart attack! A minute or two after my despair subsided I realized I was acting just like people who freaked out when we "took" AppleWorks away from them.

December 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNathan Mielke

I'm with you Cathy. Here is my dream catalog:
"Catalog Companies - Can you hear me now?"

December 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJacquie Henry

I've been reading a lot about the death of e-mail. Now Facebook is implementing an e-mail-like component that is more like texting. I would assume that we won't have e-mail in 2016.

December 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFloyd Pentlin

I was also staggered by news of Delicious possibly going away - I always choose my web-based services based on backup and export services (and Delicious expert services are pretty excellent - export by tag, etc.) - but still... of all the web tools I use, I guess I am the most personally fond of Delicious because it prompted me to undertake some web-based projects I never would have even imagined without it.
That being said, I was also prompted by rumors of Delicious folding to re-evaluate the way I am using Delicious very carefully in order to find an alternative. This was a great process! I knew that I loved Delicious but my students never really liked it very much, and since the main use I make of Delicious is to share resources with my students, it would definitely be good to find something with an interface they like better. So, I needed the power and ease-of-use I got from Delicious, but a better interface for my students. I chose a blog and built a really spiffy blog with about 100 pages reflecting my existing Delicious links inventory. I think the students will be really happy with how it came out (it just took a few hours because of Delicious's nifty export option, where you can get HTML output label by label).
If Delicious does stick around, great! I will keep using it for myself, and then update the blog pages once a month or something. That's more work, but it will actually get me closer to my teaching goals, since I knew in my heart of hearts that while I loved Delicious, my students found the Delicious interface clunky and unappealing (no pictures).
The general point I wanted to make I guess is that I have personally benefited from the rise and fall of different technologies. Like everybody, it would be so easy to get stuck in a rut - but when there is constant change in the world of online tools, it forces me to constantly re-evaluate what I am doing in order to choose the best tools. The final result has been steady improvement, and some of the biggest improvements have come when some external factor forced me to re-evaluate things unexpectedly and regroup... even if I might shudder a bit as I get started, not quite knowing which way to go!
P.S. Here is the blog: E-Storybook Central - right now it basically just contains all my 1000 or so Delicious links... but since it is a blog, I will be able to add all kinds of other stuff too before classes start in January. That will be fun!

December 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLaura Gibbs

Doug- I had a great response but didn't get around it and now a few days later find your post obsolete and irrelevant to today's students and professionals. Delicious is so...yesterday.

Happy Holidays!!

December 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBob

Hi Tom,

Perhaps. I wish it were that simple. I am not sure GoogleWave's problem was a business model, but functions nobody needed.


Hi Cathy Jo,

Hmmmm, I suspect some form of online library catalog will be around as long as there are libraries. Taking any bets on their longevity ;-)


No, Tim, I wanted a list of things that WERE going to be here, not things going away! Please re-read the question and re-submit your answer!

Seriously, thanks for the link. Great post.


Hi Jen,

My new home TV is a giant LED monitor that has an Ethernet connection to it so I can stream content from the web. The convergence is already here!


Hi Nathan,

I am sure I still have closet AppleWorks users in my district. I know we have secretaries using Wordperfect!


Hi Floyd,

Maybe not - or maybe not used by anyone under the age of 40!


Hi Laura,

My guess is that you are the exception to rule among teachers! I don't know many who would be willing to invest the time or have the tech expertise that you do to create such a fabulous product.

This book is for the reluctant tech user and I am afraid I would not get many takers suggesting teachers replace an easy to use site like delicious with a blog.

Great idea for the tech enthusiasts though and thanks for sharing it.


Hi Bob,

I've been obsolete since 1986. You get used to it.


December 21, 2010 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

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