Friday, February 6, 2009

Replacing Ma.gnolia with Diigo

It has been quite a while since I have used Ma.gnolia as my primary bookmarking tool.  Over the year or so since I stopped using Ma.gnolia primarily I have bounced around between a number of services, but most often using Diigo.  Ma.gnolia has had some troubles recently, pretty serious troubles, and I was very surprised to see that Larry and co. are suggesting Diigo as an alternative to Ma.gnolia.

I went in search of something different when I realized that most of the development at Ma.gnolia was geared towards open web standards.  I was looking for more bookmarking features, especially new ways to organize and search for bookmarks.  I was initially attracted to the 3.0 version of Diigo by the enhanced social tools and the ability to annotate web pages.  When I started using the service I noticed how it was very similar to Ma.gnolia, especially in the use of groups.  Diigo also has a lists feature which is another way of organizing your bookmarks. Lists are nice because they allow you to group the bookmarks similarly to how things are organized in Google Notebook.  There was some talk at Ma.gnolia of adding a similar feature so I was glad to see it implemented.

Diigo is focused quite heavily on research, as opposed to merely bookmark collection.  This has attracted a large following among educators, and there is a lot of focus on the site towards enhancing research.  I think this is a good thing, as it gives a very different feel to Diigo and puts features into the service that would not be there without this research emphasis.

I will say that I have never felt more “at home” with a web service as I did with Ma.gnolia.  The guys running Ma.gnolia, Larry and Todd and the others that have worked there, made every effort to be available.  I spent time in chat rooms, discussing things in groups, and exchanging email with the developers to make Ma.gnolia a better service.  I took part in Ma.gnolia’s anti-spam program where gardeners helped to keep weeds(spam) down in the Ma.gnolia garden.  While the developers of Diigo are every bit as passionate about what they are doing, and I do feel they are listening to their users, they are not as accessible as the Ma.gnolia team was.  I don’t think that I would feel the same sense of community as I did at Ma.gnolia.  I also feel that the developer team is a bit slow to respond to support questions, and they could spend more time in the forums.  I would love to see Diigo add a community rep that is dedicated to just taking care of the user questions and issues.  Todd filled this role of go between with the community and developers at Ma.gnolia very well.

All that said, Diigo has more than enough going for it.  Some new additions are planned to beef up the already impressive set of research tools.  It sounds like they plan to basically duplicate the same sort of functionality that made Google Notebook so popular.  They actually offer an importer for Google Notebooks since Google is phasing out that service.  Perhaps, in light of the unfortunate events at Ma.gnolia, the best feature of Diigo is that they auto bookmark to Delicious (and formerly Ma.gnolia) whenever you add a bookmark to Diigo.  Nice and easy way to get a backup (they also offer a backup feature, as did Ma.gnolia).

I agree with Larry, Diigo is a nice alternative to Ma.gnolia.  I still hope to see the Ma.gnolia service re-born.  I will be creating an account there when they do.

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