Bookmarks are dead, long live bookmarks

A new rumor claims that Apple might release a web-interface for Safari bookmarks, but is it too little, too late?

Remember when bookmarks were everything?

In the late 1990s I had hundreds of bookmarks (maybe 1,000) that I meticulously organized into folders. I spent a couple hours every weekly pruning and curating my bookmarks, which I'd actually refer to and use. 

Remember del.icio.us? This bookmark-killer launched in 2003 with a great premise: instead of storing bookmarks on only one machine (or one browser) you could instead store them at http://del.icio.us (a precursor to "the cloud") and access them from any web browser on any machine. A brilliant concept.

Then Google pretty much killed the bookmark as we know it. Its search became so good that it was easier to Google what you were looking for than to find it in a long list of bookmarks. Heck, a lot of people find it easier to Google a website than typing the URL in the address bar. 

Bookmarks got reinvented in 2008 with the introduction of "social bookmarking." Services like Instapaper, Read it Later/Pocket and Pinboard pivoted from simply saving URLs (sometimes with tags) to saving entire webpages to the cloud (usually reformatted and without ads) and allowing you to read them offline via a companion mobile app. 

Fast forward to June 2011 when Apple introduces iCloud, and Safari bookmark syncing with it. The promise was simple (if late): your bookmarks synced across all your devices – Mac, iPad, and iPhone. The problem is that iCloud bookmark syncing is so buggy (sometimes spawning thousands of duplicates) that Safari grinds to a halt under the weight of the dupes. Two years ago I called iCloud bookmark syncing a first-class disaster and stopped using it entirely.

iCloud Bookmarks, too little, too late? Jason O'Grady

Yesterday MacRumors (via 9to5Mac) reported that Apple is preparing to roll out iCloud bookmarks, which would conceivably allow you to access your bookmarks in the cloud. Ideally it would allow you to edit them too. As for me, I'd be happy with an interface that allowed me to delete the thousands of duplicate bookmarks cluttering my iCloud account, which I've been asking for for two years. 

A web-based interface to manage Safari bookmarks is a step in the right direction. Just a couple years late. 

Do you use bookmarks or bookmark syncing? What's your strategy?

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