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Social bookmarking has caught my attention again. I’ve had one account or another for years and years, but in the last year or so I’ve really latched onto it.

In part, I think it has at least a little to do with my iPhone. Before this, I’ve (generally speaking) had two computers in use at any one time. One for work and one at home. And the work bookmarks went on the work laptop, and the personal bookmarks went on my home computer.

When I started emailing myself links to my work email address from my home computer rather than hauling out my work laptop, though: that’s when I knew I was in trouble.

And then the iPhone came along. And believe it or not, it’s my main mobile device. When I stopped in on the Learning Design Summer Camp, all I brought was my iPhone. No laptop. And I did fine interacting with the Live Question Tool, and backchanneling via Twitter, and all that.

But to really get the most out of whenever I was websurfing on my iPhone, I needed to be able to access my bookmarks. And putting them “in the cloud” on a social network (so to speak) has done that.

Someone a few weeks ago told me that you can tell a lot about someone by looking at what they bookmark. I’d give that more credence than judging by their shoes–though I don’t know a lot about shoes past what’s comfortable and looks decent.

My top tags in delicious (name change from the original del.icio.us, so named because a friend of the founder compared finding good links to eating cherries) on my professional account are as follows: socialmedia, reachingstudents, marketing, web2.0, admissions, socialnetworking, usability, content, culture, webdesign.

That’s telling. Though I rather dislike that marketing shows up there: I’ve always resisted that label.

I’m the one usually telling my boss or my equal on the print side (who’s a marketer) that we shouldn’t do that  when he suggests a scheme that smells suspiciously of spamming. We didn’t even have an unsubscribe on the marketing email going out of our office until I got there, and our security policies were (emphasis there on the past tense) not very strong on a few points.

Is it that I’m more ethical than my marketing colleague? Possible. I do know that I’m closer to the age of the students we’re trying to talk with, and way more tech-savvy than he is. And social media-minded, for that matter.

It’s more that I, like many of a similar age and younger, have been totally suspicious of marketing for as long as I’ve been aware of it. “All Marketers are Liars” is more than a book title to me.

In this vein, social bookmarking has become really valuable to me. I’ll more often trust–or at least follow–a link passed to me by a friend or colleague than one being advertised.

So in short, those are the two big draws for me. Social bookmarking is:

  • in the cloud
  • with my community

It allows me to contribute and consume from people I know and trust from anywhere. Which is also the main perk of Twitter, I might add. And I’m sure it could also be extended to many other social networking applications. Care to contribute some more to the list?

We’re creating our own language here at Penn State.

Then again, people in groups together for any significant period of time do. Does anybody outside of Penn State understand the significance of “BS Breakfast”? Probably not: they’d take it for what it sounds like. Which was, of course, the intent. (BS here stands for “brainstorming,” for those not in the know.)

“Language” may be an overstatement, but it’s at least a code. You’re “in” if you know what we’re talking about.

I’m part of a lot of these communities with their own codes: Penn State TLT groupie (joke!) is just one of them. And acronyms are just part of these codes.

One community with a ton of community-made acronyms that I’m part of is BPAL enthusiasts (keep in mind, with the following links, that their aesthetic is quite dark–don’t be shocked). Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab (BPAL) is a Los Angeles-based outfit that creates perfume oils, and it has its own parlance. GC (general catalog), LE (limited edition), CD (Carnaval Diabolique) and the like are pretty common to see in discussions on the topic, as is BPTP (Black Phoenix Trading Post, their sister company, which produces all their non-perfumel goods).

Other communities of a sort are more based on quotes or references. The video Shannon posted yesterday contains a bunch of these. Whether or not you notice them depends on where you spend your time online. One of the first clips is a re-creation of the Numa Numa guy.   There’s also “first!” (warning: expletives, immaturity), commonly seen in comments. See also: Internet Commenter Business Meeting (same warning applies, only way more so. plus offensiveness. plus . . . oh, nevermind–it’s from College Humor, so you should expect as much), which is basically what would happen if a meeting was run like virtually any popular open forum online.

And, of course, if you haven’t yet been hit by a Rick Roll, you haven’t been online long enough, and you certainly haven’t been taking a look all the way through my links. But that may be just as well, really.

Internet Memes (warning: too many warnings than I can list) attempts to collate all these references. It doesn’t hit all of them, but it hits the highlights quite well.

And there’s certainly some mocking of that communal language of references. An editorial in the New York Times today, Lord of the Memes, tells us that to be on the cutting edge, we need to be “not only an early adopter, but an early discarder.” We should go through these products, services and references before anyone else and then get sick of them and dismiss them with disdain should anyone else bring them up. The article ends with “remember, cultural epochs come and go, but one-upsmanship is forever.”

I didn’t discover that editorial on my own. In a rare reverse-crossover reference–real life to online rather than the other way around–someone told me about it at lunch and I looked at it on my iPhone when the conversation waned. There’s some irony there, believe me.

But this is connectivity. Or the cost of connectivity. Or the advantage of connectivity.

The point is, that too is part of your cultural education. So choose your influences wisely–they will become your references, and part of your language. Maybe I should be a bit more selective in mine. 😉

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