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Delicious: a Misnomer?

Full disclosure: I live under a rock (although for the past three years I’ve used the “law school bubble” excuse) so this post is likely old ground for most everyone. Perhaps this helps to explain how it’s possible that I was first tip’d off to the website Delicious in class this morning, despite its eight-year existence (my attempt at a pun here makes more sense once it’s acknowledged that  Tip’d, which I’m going to neglect discussing in this post, is a finance-focused website that’s otherwise very similar to Delicious).

If you’re still reading, I’m going to venture to guess that you’re either (a) a fellow under-the-rock dweller or (b) incredibly bored (or perhaps both?). In any case, I want to clarify up front that Delicious is probably not what you’d expect, although it’s certainly likely related to it (e.g., it is neither a pornographic website nor a cooking blog …. although, as will be discovered, it could conceivably be used to find websites for either purpose). Delicious is a bookmarking web service and plug-in, which allows users to privately or publicly tag and archive various websites. I’ve only been playing around with Delicious for the past couple of hours, so I’m concededly not in the best position to really be evaluating its merits. Of course, being unqualified has never stopped me before … so in this post I’m going to review Delicious.

First, I think that Delicious is best utilized to alleviate boredom (that is to say, it’s a fun site to peruse during free time). To illustrate, let’s say you’re interested in “law” (I doubt this is far off). If you type this broad term in the search bar, you’ll get 555,384 bookmarks of popular law-related websites. The following sites were some of my favorite results from this search:

(1) A blog entitled “12 Important U.S. Laws Every Blogger Needs to Know: this is pretty self-explanatory so there’s likely little need for elaboration. Suffice it to say that the blog provides 12 laws relevant to blogging, along with tips for how bloggers can ensure that they stay out of legal trouble.

(2) A website hosted by the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law highlighting and summarizing particularly noteworthy (i.e., famous) trials. This website is pretty fantastic for those as ill-informed and impatient as I because it highlights a finite number of interesting trials ranging in time from 399 B.C. to 2006.

(3) A website dedicated to the legal needs and rights of photographers, complete with beautiful photographs.

(4) A user-created website that allows you to search well-known speed traps by state/province.

(5) A website that provides a table illustrating worldwide ages of consent (just to clarify, I have no need for this site personally, I just find it interesting to compare how countries differ).

Even from the above sampling it’s probably apparent that, at least in theory, Delicious could be used for research purposes (legal or otherwise). In this way Delicious might be used as a secondary source of authority the same way as, say, Westlaw’s AMJUR search. The obvious advantages for utilizing Delicious for research are (1) its simple interface and URL scheme and (2) it’s ability to save you money (i.e., it’s free)! At the end of the day, though, when using Delicious for this purpose, I’d suspect that it functionally will be very similar to any other search engine (e.g., google). In other words, the clear advantage of using a Delicious plug-in would be the ability to tag your results with index terms (and then efficiently search/browse your bookmarks). Of course, without having fully utilized this capability, it intuitively seems like only a small benefit, given that you could of course already just bookmark/favorite google results into user-created subfolders on your browser. But anyway, I wanted to test out my theory that google and Delicious would retrieve similar websites so I researched how one would go about creating an enforceable contract by searching “enforceable contract” on both websites. I retrieved the following results:

Google Results: Retrieved about 3,820,000 results, the top five of which are: (1) “When does a contract become enforceable” (the North Carolina Real Estate Commission’s website); (2) “Contract” (Wikipedia); (3) “Contract Law” (a Net Industries website); (4) “Contract Law-An Introduction” (ExpertLaw); and (5) “Enforceable Contract” (University at Buffalo Law School)

Delicious Results: Retrieved 20 results, the top five of which are: (1) “Specific Performance” (Wikipedia); (2) A deadlink; (3) “OpenMac Advertised for $399.99” (UK’s Guardian); (4) “The Nuts and Bolts of an Enforceable Contract” (AtYourLibrary); and (5) “Contract Written in Blood Not Enforceable, US Court Rules” (The Telegraph)

Okay, well it looks like I was patently incorrect in my prediction. This notwithstanding, I’m hesitant to alter my position that Delicious is not an optimal research tool. Again, with the caveat that I haven’t used the site enough to really be confident in my claims, I’m inclined to believe that Delicious, while a great website for supplementing research and finding alternate sources of information, is itself not a frontrunner for research. And, of course, this is probably predictable since the website by no means advertises itself as a big dog in the research world.

So my verdict is: “Why, yes, Delicious, you’re rather delicious … but only for some purposes. If I’m bored and want a tasty treat, I’ll certainly devour, for you are bound to provide some fun gems on the web. But if I have some legal question (or any other need for information for that matter), you’re not what I crave.”

So there you have it. That’s my review. What’s your verdict: is Delicious delicious??

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