What's wrong with Google Bookmarks

I love Google, both as a company and as a series of products.  I use many of their services and prefer them to the "competition." ...

I love Google, both as a company and as a series of products.  I use many of their services and prefer them to the "competition."  But their bookmarks service is not something I use (at the moment) because of one simple thing.


Google Bookmarks is a rather impressive tool for bookmarking web resources.  You can set it up so that you can instantly bookmark anything that Google Search can find.  Your existent bookmarks are also indicated in Google Search results.  You can add labels (rather like "tags") to your bookmarks, and you can create lists of bookmarks that you can share with others or even make entirely public.

But there's one thing Bookmarks doesn't do: it doesn't let you get a list of bookmarks that contain more than one label.  Let me give you an example to explain.

I use Diigo for bookmarking because it offers, IMHO, greater and more robust services than pretty much any other bookmarking service.  If you go to my Diigo links, you will see, in the right sidebar, my Top Tags.  Click on the first one.  Diigo will give you a list of all my links that have that tag.  Now look at the right sidebar.  The Related Tags are an exhaustive list of all the other tags that appear in the resources that have that one Top Tag.  Click on the orange + sign in front of any of the Related Tags.  Now you will have a list of the resources that contain two tags.  In geek-speak, you've got the intersection of the set of resources that have the first tag and the set of resources that have the second tag.

This is a great way to very quickly prune a huge list of links down to a very manageable and specific few.  In fact, the more bookmarks you have, the more essential fast pruning methods become.

And Google Bookmarks doesn't do this.

In Google Bookmarks, you can only choose one label at a time.  You can choose, for example, article or sustainability, but you cannot choose both (and therefore get a list of articles about sustainability).

I'm seriously perplexed by this weird behaviour of Google Bookmarks, because the venerable Gmail does it right.  In Gmail, there are no folders to store email messages.  Instead you assign labels to messages.  With this approach, you can have a single message appear in multiple pseudo-folders without duplicating the message.  This is exactly the functionality needed by Bookmarks.  If Google can do it in Gmail, why can't they do it in Bookmarks?  I honestly don't know.

I like my tools as simple as possible; I find most fancy functionality is really unnecessary.  And Google Bookmarks sure is simple.  And clean.  And functional.  And fast.  But without supporting multiple label browsing, then there's no point in even considering Bookmarks.

But mark my words: if they ever implement this sorely missing and immensely useful functionality, I'll migrate to Google Bookmarks so fast it'll leave a mark on my keyboard.

UPDATE 1 July 2010
One more thing about which you should be aware regarding Google Bookmarks: it doesn't provide feeds of your bookmarks (except in a roundabout way) and your lists.  So you can't just publish the feed on something like a wordpress blog.  You can follow other people's lists, but only within the Google realm.  And that's not good enough for me, because you can get reasonable feeds from, say Google Reader....

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