Okay, so I'm pretty sure I'm one of the last people on the internet to discover the site del.icio.us. The tastiness of the name has caught my eye many times in the past, but I've always been too intimidated to give it a look. To me it was some scary internet phenomenon meant only for internet uber-masters, something akin to rss feeds (still trying to figure out how those work.) The mysterious url format threw me off. How would I even access it? Did I need to have a special widget to run it? Would I have to locate and install drivers off a mirror site in China? Would it hurt?
Anyways, turns out it really is just a plain old url, and it's not scary or difficult at all. So just in case you're like me and you're new to the site, here's what you need to know.
To get started, you create a profile, and then add a bunch of bookmarks for your favorite websites. You can add a button to your toolbar to simplify the process. Once you bookmark a site, you enter a description and a bunch of tags. The tags will help you in the future when you've collected links to many sites and want to search for only the ones about, say, Tolkien. Or hot dogs. Except you can't use spaces, so the tag would have to be hot.dogs or hot-dogs.
So how does this link back to promoting your writing? Well, the more times people bookmark your site, the higher it ranks on the Popular list (similar to Digg), and the more likely it is that people will find their way there. Also, you can create a network of fellow users, and share your sites with them. And here's one more thing to try: go to the Popular page, and take a look at the tags there. I'm not saying that you should add a bunch of unrelated tags to your sites, but if you see something there that applies to you, by all means use it. For example, this blog is intended to help people with writing/getting published, so I could tag it as "howto" and make it easier for people to find their way here. It's all about connecting people to the information they want as expeditiously as possible.
Thanks to this article on The Dough Roller for getting me to try out del.icio.us!