Update (03/29/06): Diigo has had many updates since this review. Please stick around for a new review coming this week covering the many new Diigo features.
I’ve been testing a new social bookmarking service, Diigo, and found that it is actually much more then just social bookmarking but an annotation tool as well. I come across many websites, bookmark them, tag them, and then forget why I bookmarked them in the first place. But with Diigo, you can save notes to highlighted text on a page and even view a rough copy of the site in text-only format (which they call a snapshot) at the point of bookmarking it. There are also many more features and I will go over a few of them with you. The service is currently in private beta, but if you would like to see a simple demonstration, you may want to view their flash tutorial on how to use Diigo.
The main interface is nicely organized and provides a ton of functionality. When first logging in, you will get directed to your bookmarks page where you get a list of your recent bookmarks on the left and tags on the right. You find with each bookmark that you can view seperate tags, the snapshot (text-only of page at time of bookmarking), view others who have bookmarked the link, and even add comments to each link (also showing comments from other users). Another section of Diigo is the community, which is basically just all the bookmarks made from other users along with their tags, just like any other social bookmarking service. But what I like is when you view bookmarks for an individual tag, you will see a button show that says, “subscribe.” This isn’t a button to subscribe to an RSS feed, although there is RSS feeds for bookmarks, but it is a button to have Diigo take note that you want to keep up with bookmarks that are tagged with that tag and view them through Diigo. So for example, if I wanted to keep up with “Ajax” and “Web” bookmarks, I just subscribe to the tags. Then when I view the subscribed page, I will see all bookmarks for all tags that I have subscribed to. This is great because I can view only bookmarks that I find interest in that have been bookmarked by the community. But enough about that, how do you actually bookmark?
Bookmarking is very simple because of Diigo’s excellent toolbar that is available for Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Flock. There are five main features with the toolbar that have proven to be very useful. First, and most importantly, is the Diigo button that will let you bookmark the page you are on. When clicking the Diigo button, a popup will come up letting you set tags, specify whether it is to be public or not, and also allow you to add comments to the bookmark. The button also will change icons depending on if you have bookmarked it already or if others have left comments for the page. The next button is the Links button which lets you show bookmarks for any tag from your bookmarks or from the community. I like to picture this being like a dynamic bookmark folder in Firefox that will show the latests bookmarks with the tag selected. Next is the Inbox button which is my favorite feature of the toolbar. The Inbox button will list the latest bookmarks that match your tag subscriptions that I described earlier. Everytime a new bookmark has been made that is set to a tag you are subscribed to, it will add 1 to the Inbox counter and bold the number marking it to show unread bookmarks. Its like an email inbox for bookmarks. Very cool. The next button is the search button that will let you search using many search engine services grouped in specific categories. For example, I can search for the word, “Ajax,” in Diigo, del.icio.us, Google, Technorati, and a lot of other search engines. And lastly you have the highligh and find button which will let you highlight and search for any text on the current page you are viewing. To use the highlight and find feature, you just type in the textbox that you use for normal searching but this time either click on the button for each word of the search term or the highlighter button. It sounds like a lot involved with the toolbar, but really once you start to use it, you will grow to love it.
I mentioned that Diigo is not only a social bookmarking service, but also a social annotation service. Diigo lets you highlight any text on any site and bookmark the page saving the highlighted text. Once the bookmark is saved, the next time you visit the bookmarked page, you will still see the text you highlighted, but this time with a blue underline. You can save multiple highlights on a page and even save sticky notes to each highlighted text area that you saved. This is excellent because there are many times that I have wanted to keep a note of something specific on a site and couldn’t and later on forget why I bookmarked it in the first place. Now I can keep notes on pages so I know what I was thinking at the time. On top of all of this though is that you can set public sticky notes. Meaning that when a Diigo user is to set a note to public on a page, any other Diigo user will see the note as well when viewing it. I also should note that in order to save a public note, you must have atleast two friends to help cut down on abuse with notes on sites.
Diigo has many other great features. One feature that caught my eye was the importing of bookmarks. Instead of importing a saved file to Diigo, it will actually open a popup listing all your bookmarks from your browser and let you import each on all at once or individually. It also tags them all by default using the tag, “Links” along with the name of the folder it was found in from your bookmarks directory. This is great because I don’t have to make any file or anything to import bookmarks. Another feature that I thought was interesting search page for Diigo. Diigo has searching in the interface itself, but unlike other services, it also has its own search page that lets anyone search Diigo (even if you aren’t a member). Instead of showing results in the Diigo’s website itself, it will show results on a page in a format much like Google’s which makes it a whole lot better, in my opinion. Another feature that Diigo has is friends. You can add friends to your bookmarks page so you can easily view their bookmarks when you want. But I personally would like to see a bit more functionality with friends to something like what BlinkList has done. When viewing the main page (or community in this case), BlinkList lets you click on the friends icon which will then filter all the favorites to show only bookmarks saved by your friends. This allows you to view only bookmarks from people that you know and trust. It would be great if Diigo can do this as well and I feel it would fit quite nicely with the service.
Overall, Diigo is an excellent social service that allows you to annotate, bookmark, and discover bookmarks and is currently in private beta. This will prove to be very useful for when taking notes on services I want to write about in the future. You may also want to view what TechCrunch and Library Stuff has to say about Diigo, as well as a look at the Flash Tutorial to see how it works.