What was once awesome and useful is now filled with dogs in costumes and photos of donuts.
Trailblazing social bookmarking service Delicious relaunched this morning under new management: Chad Hurley and Steven Chen, the co-founders of YouTube who bought the neglected service from Yahoo earlier this year. The plan is to make the service appealing to a larger number of mainstream users. So far it's pretty underwhelming.
When Yahoo bought Delicious years ago, I was disappointed it wasn't the Library of Congress that made the acquisition. It was that useful. Now this new Delicious looks like just another Web 2.0 startup.
The first steps taken in the mainstreaming effort are the introduction of "stacks" or topical bundles of links, and the addition of lots of images throughout the site. Asking users to curate whole collections of links, add intelligent annotation to those links and put them in order all requires even more mental overhead than asking them to post some tags when they bookmark a link. If all of that were automated and then users were prompted in some Zynga-like way to joyfully offer annotation, that would be interesting.
Unfortunately, a lot of the best parts of the old site have been lost. The most Popular links for a tag are broken and there are no longer RSS feeds being made readily available.
I don't like it. I want to like it, but I don't so far.
When news emerged that Yahoo was really done with Delicious last December, I wrote about how extensively and strategically we use it here at ReadWriteWeb.
A tool that lets everyday people organize links of interest to them and as a result create user-generated metadata, discovery pipelines, resource search powered by passive popularity - the power and potential of the network effects in the old Delicious were amazing.
Unfortunately, it does not appear that those qualities were appreciated in the relaunch. Quite the opposite. (No RSS feeds?!) The concept of collections of websites ("stacks") doesn't feel new or fresh anymore. Big pictures are nice but they're hardly new or fresh either.
Right: At least the default avatar is cool.
It feels to me like in its effort to go mainstream, the new Delicious has lost or underplayed its strengths and not yet shown us anything new that has world-changing potential. Maybe it will come back as a result of the tagging that happens as stacks are created. I don't know.
I clicked through the Featured Tags section of the site, then clicked on Web 2.0 and you know what I found? A link to defunct social browser Flock and a Mashable article about the top Web 2.0 startups...of 2005. Oh well.
Hopefully something good will come of it all. Or someone else will capture and grow the dream that Delicious represented back in the day. Or maybe we should all just go grunt and Like things on Facebook after all.