DiigoDiigo, known for its social annotation, finally went public yesterday. The service aims to turn the web writable allowing users to privately or publicly annotate any website they visit, in turn making a “participatory and interactive media” for its users. I must say that even though I have had an account for Diigo’s private beta since I last reviewed it late December, I have been anticipating its launch. So much has changed since my last review including social bookmarking enhancements, new annotation tools, tools built for bloggers, and more.

It’s only been one day since the public launch and I have already seen mixed comments about the service ranging from extremely happy to down right brutal, but both sides with some strong points. My say? I think it’s a great service because once you start using it, you will realize that it is much more then just bookmarking. Diigo has features that can please just about anyone. You can bookmark a site, take notes, save snippets of text and graphics, highlight sentences on a site, and even share notes on a site with others. If you are a writer, Diigo will allow you to keep your notes and highlights organized and allow you to write a blog post and publish it, all within the service. Diigo also makes it easier for users to bookmark and annotate by providing them with a browser extension (Firefox, Flock, and IE), or if you prefer, a bookmarklet (Diigolet) so you do not have to install anything. The hard part though is standing out as the unique and powerful service that Diigo is and not appearing like it’s just another Del.icio.us clone.

To further illustrate my point of Diigo being more than just bookmarking, let me give you an example scenario. Currently, I’m working on making an online store for my company and I’m beginning to research shipping and handling for our products. I searched around the web and found an article with helpful information so I bookmarked it with Diigo. Being that I bookmarked it, I was then able to highlight the strong points of the article and add notes to the areas that I wanted to add input to. Now, the next time I visit the site, all my notes and highlights will appear (assuming I have the Diigo toolbar enabled). But lets take this a step further. I’m not saving these notes just for myself. I made the notes to share with my partners and that is just what Diigo allows me to do. I locate my bookmark in Diigo and forward the bookmark to my friend which provides them with my notes in the email along with a link to the article I annotated. Now, this link that they receive in the email is special because it allows them to view all my highlighted text and notes on the page without being a Diigo user. Even more so, if they do have an account with Diigo, they can add notes in reply to my notes and highlight text themselves on the article! Now that’s teamwork ;-).

I have decided that because Diigo has such a wide range of features and, from what I can tell, most people feel it is simply a bookmarking service, the best way to describe Diigo is by showing how it differentiates from the crop. So, I am going to go over the main features of Diigo one by one to show what exactly Diigo is capable of. Be sure to also check out the Demo Tours and Features Overview at Diigo’s website.

Bookmarking

Diigo has all of the basic social bookmarking features. You can bookmark any site, add a description and tags, and allow others to comment on your bookmarks. Now, remember, Diigo isn’t built specifically for bookmarking but for annotation. With that said, you can attach highlighted text and notes to any bookmark and even simultaneously bookmark to other social bookmarking services, such as Del.icio.us, Blinklist, Shadows, RawSugar, and more. Why would Diigo allow you to bookmark to other social bookmarking services? If I had to guess it’s simply because many people are already comfortable with services they use, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need Diigo for its annotation. I can use Diigo for annotating a page and then bookmark it to Diigo and Del.ico.us and because the notes are saved to Diigo, the next time I go to that website from my Del.icio.us bookmarks, the notes will be there. You don’t have to use Diigo for its bookmarking – entirely optional. You may also import your browser or Del.icio.us bookmarks to Diigo and export them when needed. Publicly saved bookmarks can be found in the community section along with a tag cloud to navigate through them.

Annotation – Content Highlighting and Notes

The key feature of Diigo is annotation. Users can bookmark a page and highlight text and images on the page to take note of. Highlights on a page by the user will then save and appear as a blue dashed underline whenever they visit the site again. Hovering over a highlight will bring up a menu where the user can optionally add a note to the highlight and make the note private or public. Highlighted text with notes attached to them will appear as a solid underline in blue. Also, if you browse to a site that other Diigo users have highlighted or added notes to, you will see their highlights on the page (if saved publicly) colored in orange.

Being able to bookmark and annotate a page is very helpful. In terms of research, you can bookmark and annotate all the sites related to the topic you are researching. When your done getting all the information you need, select all the bookmarks in the “My Bookmarks” area and select in the top right drop down, “Extract highlights.” This will then grab all your notes from all the sources you’ve saved and display them on a clean page for you to look over and print. This is a great tool for bloggers as well. Gather up all your sources for a post your working on, add your notes, and when ready, select all the bookmarks and blog about it using Diigo’s built in blogging tool (explained below).

Blogging

I personally prefer blogging straight through my WordPress installation, but for those of you that want to take notes, gather sources, and easily publish a post to your blog, Diigo may be your solution. Diigo allows you to add multiple blogs to your account, verify them, and easily publish a post, however you may only publish and cannot manage old entries. What I like is that while you browse the web and you come across a site talking about a specific topic you want to expand on, you can right click and select, “Blog This,” which will then direct you to the blogging area where you can write your post along with that site being your source. The other method is by simply going to your bookmarks section and selecting a bookmark, or multiple bookmarks, that you want to write about and then selecting the “Blog This” option from the top right drop down menu. All the sources, highlighted text, and notes will be included in the post document, which you can easily remove if needed, ready for you to write. It’s not an entire blogging platform, just a simple publishing tool that works.

Browser Toolbar and Bookmarklet

The Diigo toolbar, available for Firefox, IE, and Flock, brings most of Diigo’s features right to your browser. The toolbar allows you to easily bookmark websites, highlight and note pages, search documents for keywords, search terms in a page using your favorite search engine, and it even brings all bookmarks right to the toolbar. The toolbar also is what makes it possible for you to see highlighted text and notes that you and other users have made on websites you visit. Bookmarking a site is as simple as clicking the Diigo button and filling in the tags and highlighting just involves you highlighting the text you want to save. One of my favorite features is the “QuickD” button (not in the above screenshot) that I recently came across. The QuickD button allows you to save a bookmark to Diigo with one click without needing the original Diigo popup to appear and adds a default tag to it (you may also fill in tags in the search box of the toolbar to tag it) so you can just click and go.

What if you don’t want to install an extension to your browser? That’s fine because Diigo also provides it’s user with Diigolet, a browser bookmarklet that allows you to easily bookmark and annotate any website as well as view annotations on pages left by other Diigo users.

Searching

The last feature I want to bring up is searching. Diigo provides you with two main options when searching (Search Tag and Search Full-Text) as well as advanced search options. Searching by tag is nothing new but great to have so you can easily find bookmarks that other users have saved under a specific tag. But performing a full-text search is something that I haven’t seen in related services. Because Diigo stores a cache of every website you bookmark, it can index all of the content and your annotations, making searching much like a normal search engine. You can search in all public bookmarks or your bookmarks only, search for words specifically in a highlight that has been saved, and even find text in comments that Diigo users have made.


27 Comments on “Diigo Launches – More Than Just Bookmarking”

  1. Ben Graham says:

    this looks like a great service. thanks for the head-up. I am a long-time user of furl — fed up with it.

  2. gary sanders says:

    Dude…. You write this:

    “Diigo, known for its social annotation, has finally went public yesterday…”.

    Arrrrgggg!!! It *kills* me to read this. It is bad enough that people speak this way. Please change “…has went…” to “…has gone…”.

    Your article is probably great, but I haven’t gotten to it yet. Just had to point out the grammar thing.

    G

  3. gary sanders says:

    OK. Fair enough. Let me correct my last comment. Please just remove the word “has” and it will be perfect.

  4. Brian Benzinger says:

    Haha. Simple mistake. Thanks for spotting it, Gary. Fixed.

  5. David N. says:

    This is a fantastic site. This is sort of like ButterFly http://www.ministryoftech.com/?p=60

  6. 3spots says:

    Nice review!

  7. dave says:

    this is a great idea, as a professional researcher i see only one real problem: serious research types are already using specialized annotation tools (there are many out there that allow for use with offline annotations)…there are a few specific simple changes that this firm could implement (imho) that i believe would allow for some serious adoption and embrace by professors and students as well as professional researchers, namely these revolve around citation elements and reporting utilities – i expect these might turn up in future revs, but if the guys behind the site are reading this thread then please feel free to contact me for an explanation of what i’m talking about (based on existing applications, not comparison to digg or other sites of that sort)

  8. Maggie says:

    Dave, thanks for the comments. Will try to be in touch via Brian. Brian, thank you very much for a thorough review of Diigo!

  9. Lifehacker says:

    Annotate and clip the web with Diigo…

    Web service Diigo integrates social bookmarks, web clipping and sticky notes with a bookmarklet or extension for Firefox, Flock or Internet Explorer. With the extension installed, select text and click ‘Bookmark this’ and save the text onto the Diig…

  10. Greg Meson says:

    Thanks, Brian, for another great and (timely) find. I have decided to junk
    my browser “favorites”, and have been researching the social
    bookamarking space. Your informative review saved me tons of time. Yes,
    Diigo features looks awsome – I am actually awe-struck by what can be
    done.

  11. Jim says:

    it sounds really cool.

  12. Linda says:

    I immediately felt the need to respond with a grammar comment even prior to reading the grammar comment already posted. (Sorry to beat on you, but a writer should care about proper grammar, spelling, usage, etc. This is especially true on the web where these errors abound and are constantly repeated and thus reinforced.)

    1. “Gather up all your sources for a post your working on. . .”
    The first “your” is correct. The second should be “a post you’re working on,” meaning “you are working on.”

    2. “Diigo also provides it’s user. . .”
    “It’s” means “it is.” Should be the word ‘its’ which is like the word ‘his’ and doesn’t need an apostrophe to indicate the possessive.

    Try reading the hilarious, entertaining and accurate book “Eats, Shoots and Leaves” by Lynne Truss. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1592400876/002-0549278-9606407?v=glance&n=283155

    Now that I’ve proved I’m a stickler, thank you for your excellent review of diigo. Its features do indeed seem state-of-the-art and you’re obviously quite knowlegeable on this subject. I’m trying to search carefully for the best and most advanced of these bookmarking sites before committing to my first one and it’s most helpful to see your review.

  13. Olaf says:

    Linda – hah, I just bought Eats, Shoots and Leaves 3 hours ago.

    Regarding Diigo, like BlueDot, I tried it, but didn’t like it that much. Looked coplicated, and its toolbar repeatedly crashed my Firefox :(. I installed and went back to Simpy. Oh, and this reminds me, Simpy has had full-text search since the beginning (2004?). I think it’s currently turned off, but it is normally there. Highlighting and everything!

  14. Brian Benzinger says:

    Thanks for the comment, Linda. Looks like I need to proof read better. You’re right to beat on me as I should not be making these grammar mistakes ;-). Also, thanks for the book recommendation. I’ve actually been meaning to pick it up for some time now.

  15. Jim Carnoy says:

    Very interesting review. I already tried and found it pretty. Only thing I cannot find: how to import a bookmark file which is not the favorites ?

  16. Lee says:

    You posted: Thanks for the comment, Linda. Looks like I need to proof read better. Your right to beat on me as I should not be making these grammer mistakes ;-). ——————

    That should be “you’re” – it is a contraction of “you” and “are.” For a professional writer, that seems a pretty basic mistake.

    Also GRAMMAR not “grammer!”

    Gads!

    Lee Darrow, C.H.
    Lysd exi asi jo nok e!

  17. mediatedcultures.net » Diigo - A must-have for students says:

    [...] Diigo Launches – More Than Just Bookmarking   [...]

  18. evbart says:

    The comment feature is nice, and it could really take the standard social bookmarking tools and turn them into something much more powerful (ex: http://www.lifeinlists.com/2006/07/diigo-discussions-for-your-bookmarks) The problem is, that people are really just using this comment section for a “description” of the page, and you just end up with the same or similar comments from all the people that have used diigo to bookmark that page. There should be a seperate field for description, so that the comments can be used for dialogue.

  19. Diigo « sshell’s says:

    [...] Diigo Launches – More Than Just Bookmarking Diigo, known for its social annotation, finally went public yesterday. The service aims to turn the web writable allowing users to privately or publicly annotate any website the [...]

  20. ken says:

    Great!
    I just wonder if it would be possible to change the highlight color?

  21. warichu news says:

    Warichu! Is it a sneeze? Is it a Pokemon? No, it’s the latest contender in the field of annotation technology!…

    Said fast it sounds like a sneeze, said slowly it sounds like a Pokemon, but said correctly it sounds like yet another non-descript web service buzz word… but it’s actually a …

  22. pet says:

    very interesting!
    thanks

  23. Mactechsuze’s Blog » Untitled says:

    [...] Diigo Launches – More Than Just Bookmarking  Annotated To further illustrate my point of Diigo being more than just bookmarking, let me give you an example scenario. Currently, I’m working on making an online store for my company and I’m beginning to research shipping and handling for our products. I searched around the web and found an article with helpful information so I [...]

  24. Mactechsuze’s Blog » Untitled says:

    [...] Diigo Launches – More Than Just Bookmarking  Annotated To further illustrate my point of Diigo being more than just bookmarking, let me give you an example scenario. Currently, I’m working on making an online store for my company and I’m beginning to research shipping and handling for our products. I searched around the web and found an article with helpful information so I [...]

  25. The Classroom » Using Diigo for Organizing the Web for your Class says:

    [...] Solution Watch: Diigo Launches – More then  Just Bookmarking (http://www.solutionwatch.com/474/diigo-launches-more-than-just-bookmarking/) [...]

  26. dog tags says:

    theres an overload of social bookmarking sites nowadays.

  27. Ken C. says:

    I was teasing about the highlighting (#17 above) because it seems to do everything else. I am interested in the tools which annotate (although I am not that deep into research yet). Wonderful outline of the flexibility of Diigo, by the way. It has been awhile since I was an English teacher, but I learned after years of experience that it is better to encourage people to express their views than to beat them over the head for not sharpening their pencils. Example is the best teacher, not I.