A new version of Delicious (sans dots) was released as a private preview today. I got an invite and have been poking around. Techcrunch got the exclusive on the story, so they have a full review up. But in my initial quick tests, a couple of features immediately stood out for me. We've written a number of times before on Read/WriteWeb about how del.icio.us, sorry Delicious, can be used as a very effective search engine. Likewise, Alex Iskold has also written before about Delicious as a recommendation system:

"...the del.icio.us approach holds intriguing possibilities of self-organizing classification and recommendation systems. With enough users and more tweaking, social tagging can result in a system that works equally well for books, wine and music."

In another post, Alex also called it a "a gem of hidden information". Indeed, given that some of the comments on our 10 Future Web Trends post suggested crowd sourcing as a future trend worth watching, it seems to me that Delicious as a general crowd-sourced search solution is close to becoming a reality. As an example, a quick search for "web future" in Delicious Preview displayed a lot of popular (and some very old) links. But they were quality links, useful resources. Which is mostly what you want from a search engine.

So Delicious Preview is kind of like PageRank, only it's run via crowd sourcing. It's not an algorithm that primarily determines results (although that is a part of it), but thousands of 'votes' by Delicious users.

Another thing worth noting is Delicious' move towards becoming a social network, as founder Joshua Schachter spoke to R/WW about exactly one year ago. Some of these networking features are already on the current del.icio.us, but have become more refined in the new version. Here's a couple of screenshots.

Overall, Delicious still feels like an experiment in progress. But there could be profound implications for Delicious' owner, Yahoo - particularly in search. Yahoo is known to be pushing 'social search' as a way to compete with Google (Answers, Flickr, Delicious, etc), and the new Delicious Preview is another move in refining that vision.