Every web browser (the program you use to visit websites) can save the addresses of sites you might want to return to later. Microsoft’s browser, Internet Explorer, calls these “favorites.” Firefox, a free browser, calls them “bookmarks.” With any browser you can organize favorites or bookmarks so that you can find them easily again (that is, if you can remember where you placed them in a hierarchy of pull-down menus). If you haven’t saved too many bookmarks this is an O.K. method because the menus aren’t very complex. But, what’s the best way to organize bookmarks?
IMHO, Bit.ly’s the answer. Bit.ly is a web service that not only saves your bookmarks but shortens them too. Why shorten bookmarks? Well, here are two good reasons:
1. Twitter users are limited to messages of 140 characters. If you want to include a url in a tweet, shorten it with bit.ly. Then you’ll have more characters left for the rest of your message.
2. You may have had the following experience when trying to send a very long url in an email note: When you copy and paste the url into your note and the characters wrap from one line to the next, the link gets corrupted and doesn’t work anymore. Usually you learn about this when the recipient emails you back: “bad link.” If you had shortened your url, this would not likely have happened.
Here are several more reasons why bit.ly’s a better way to organize your bookmarks:
1. Bit.ly keeps a tally of clicks on your shortened urls, called “bitmarks.” By consulting your Bit.ly account you can tell how many times viewers clicked on a certain bitmark. You can even tell from which countries they visited. When you’re trying to determine the popularity of specific pages at your site in order to alter your content and increase traffic, such information is very valuable; and, it’s free!
2. You can organize your bitmarks in categories called “bundles.” When you’re visiting your bit.ly bundle page you don’t have to remember in which bundle you stored a bitmark. You can pull up the bitmark you want by typing into a search window at the top. Search fields include whatever appears in bitmark titles, bundle titles, or in the descriptions you have added to bitmarks. Bitly finds the bitmark or bundle that you’re looking for when at least one of these fields contains a match to your string.
3. You can quickly share bitmarks and bundles by email or Twitter or Facebook. You configure your Bitly account to talk to these networks, so that sending the information is easy and fast.
4. If you are doing a research project with another person or group, you can configure a bundle to allow collaboration. Anyone you’r working with can save his/her bitmarks. They get added to the group’s bundle. All members can access it, but not the public.
5. If you designate your bundles as public you can tweet their bitmarks (yes, bundles can have bitmarks too) to the Twitter address, @bitlybundles. Tweeters following this address will then notice new bundles which could prove useful in their own research. Here is a typical message on the Twitter page of @bitlybundles: A fantastic John Lennon bundle from @sree http://bit.ly/john30 #bitlybundles. Notice that the sender put the hash term, #bitlybundles at the end of his message. This makes the message findable by anyone who types #bitlybundles into a Twitter search window.
6. Your bitmarks and bundles are stored on the bitly server, not your local computer. You can access them from any computer connected to the internet. You don’t have to worry whether the server has synchronized properly with your web browser in order to keep your bookmarks up to date, because with bitly you work with server records, not those on your local computer.
Since discovering Bitly I’ve been saving all my bookmarks this way. No more need to remember where in a menu hierarchy I stuck a bookmark. No more need to import bookmarks into my browser or export them to another browser. My bookmarks are safely stored at Bitly, and easily accessed.
I don’t know a more convenient way to keep track of my bookmarks. Do you?
You might want to take a video tour of a Bitly account; see below: