Last week the big buzz around my small corner of the internet was the leak that Yahoo planned to shut down Delicious, the venerable (if anything on the web can be called that) social bookmarking site.
These days, almost all the services I rely on either charge a subscription fee, or have a relatively solid “freemium” business model, one with a basic level that’s free (sometimes with ads) along with one or more paid levels.
Delicious, however, is the one important piece that doesn’t fit. I’ve been using it since before Yahoo bought it in 2006 and always wonderedÂ how they could possibly survive with no visible means of support. Â We may soon have an answer.
Of course, when it comes to teachers and schools, free is very popular, especially when budgets are tight. Â But even in good times, government bureaucracy can make it difficult to get approval for annual subscriptions from small web companies.
Which means many educators are building lessons and activities for their students on free services that may or may not be available in future academic years.
Doug at Blue Skunk Blog has also been speculating on the longevity of Delicious and other web services while trying to finish a book about this moving target.
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.
And even paying for an account doesn’t necessarily guarantee a site won’t disappear and take all your data with it, which I suppose is a good argument for do-it-yourself.
For myself, part of the concern in the uncertainty surrounding Delicious is that I’ve spent a lot of time and effort helping colleagues learn how this service (and others) fits into their information management flow, both personally and professionally.
I know it would be more future-proof to put everything in general terms – social bookmarking, instead of Delicious – but most in the still-just-getting-started audience are looking for specific recommendations, not concepts.
At the end of his post Doug asks his readers which of today’s technologies will still be used by educators in five years.
By that time 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.
Update (12/20): Clarence also speculates on the death of free in the wake of the Delicious news and changes in other formerly free web services.