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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?

Wish I had more time to address this today, but this one will have to be quick. Keep in mind most of this is supposition.

Sometime during their search, I bet students looking at colleges and universities are likely to tap into Facebook. While this is still theory, it’s supported by others such as James Howell, in his entry a few days ago.

Unfortunately, right now I don’t expect that Penn State Admissions will be headed in that direction just yet, despite the presentation I made this past spring at our Penn State Admissions conference. The basic gist of that presentation was a suggestion to use Facebook Pages rather than Groups or Profiles for an “official” presence there. The “fan of” dynamic is just easier to deal with. That aside.

So for those students who choose to take a quick peek via Facebook into the ins and outs of a university, they’ll probably breeze through the groups, maybe take a look at some interesting people.

If I were to give some advice to that student, it would be: don’t judge us by a quick run-through, by our more popular groups, or even by our more active students on Facebook, necessarily. Take a moment to search for faculty. Look through staff like advisers, if you can find them. Look through the clubs and organizations with an official presence there. And better yet, contact people. Ask the question you’ve been wanting to of that student leader, that professor whose department you’re interested in, especially if they’ve been active recently.

The head of the Undergraduate Writing Center, Jon Olson, resisted getting onto Facebook for years. The peer tutors he works with created a “Get Jon Olson on Facebook” (or some such title) group. He finally relented recently and has been posting enthusiastically since: status, photos, even video.

It’s a hurdle for faculty sometimes, but I think most of them find that it’s super easy (and maybe even fun). But it does present some interesting quandaries: do I provide advising for the student that contacts me on Facebook, or do I refer her/him to email? That sort of thing. And while they all make their own decisions on that end, I would hope they would at least answer you. So reach out.

Social networks are for interacting, after all.

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