So, with a new year (I started writing this post in January, even if it is now mid-Feb) my thoughts turned to how a years worth of life has changed me. One of the most noticable changes is in my web habits. I search a lot less these days. Oh sure, if I can only vaguely remember a site name, I Google it via the searchbox in Firefox (or Safari, but that change is another story). But I use search to discover things much less than I did.
Del.icio.us and its kin have made discovering things much easier. Subscribe to a few tags you find interesting, watch a couple of your friends' bookmarks and you can keep track of the latest cool stuff really easily. Want something from a broader arena? Wander to the homepage, see what folks are finding interesting at the moment. Watch content proliferate in real time.
Delicious has made my old habit of swapping links with friends by email, forum or blog much more efficient. In fact it's nearly totaly replaced those habits. A link has to be really interesting or worthy of discussion, rather than just digestion, for me to blog about it. Delicious builds my awareness of stuff I am interested in with much less trawling, but it does reduce my posting regularity. Given that I use it like this, you can see why Internet marketers are turning to social bookmarking sites for promotional purposes.
What's also interesting from a user experience perspective, is that my initial reason for using the service: 'have access to my bookmarks in more than one place' has pretty much faded into the background. As I gradually got used to the other options, what I saw as the products key features changed. You've got to respect a solution that changes you and keeps you interested like that.