December 31, 2008

RSS Has Practically Eliminated My Need for Browser Bookmarks

People use Web browser bookmarks in vastly different ways. All of us have no doubt encountered people who bookmark just about everything, and don't organize them into folders, leaving the poor user to scroll through page after page to find the bookmark they are trying to find. Others don't bookmark anything and rely on Google to find the desired page, through the search engine. On the opposite spectrum, others have tidy folders, while a small percentage of them are so focused as to have their bookmarks sorted alphabetically in nested folders.

That last example would be me. Not only do I have all of my bookmarks sorted in folders, but each of the folders is alphabetically ordered in my Bookmarks toolbar in Safari. Many of the folders have subfolders, and believe it or not, the bookmarks are alphabetized in each of those folders. If only I were this organized everywhere else!

My Safari Bookmark List Just Got a Lot Smaller...

Best of all, these bookmarks are synchronized to my iPhone, meaning I have them with me on the go, practically anywhere.

But these days, it really doesn't matter how organized I am, because I so rarely encounter my bookmarks - and many have not been clicked in a very long time. In fact, this afternoon, I went and cleaned up my bookmarks for the first time in a while, going on a deletion spree.

Why the change? Because practically all the important sites I used to visit on a regular basis have transitioned to my Google Reader, thanks to RSS. There's no need to have TechCrunch and Scobleizer bookmarked. There's no need to check in on MacRumors and AppleInsider every day. Instead, they come to me. Even the dozens of saved search strings I had for work to scour Google and all the industry trade rags are no longer necessary because each of those can spit off an RSS feed into my reader.

At this point, practically the only bookmarks I need are the portals, such as iGoogle and My Yahoo!, which are themselves RSS-powered, sites where my own action is required to make them useful, from retail sites like, or transactional sites, such as Wells Fargo and eTrade, and the occasional sports-related site that has instant scores, like or Yahoo! Sports.

The old ways of visiting each site one by one, or even to open every bookmark in a folder at once, as Safari lets you do, are no longer necessary. With the inclusion of auto-complete features in practically every browser, the rapid growth of RSS and precision of Google search, browser bookmarks are an archaic breed. There even may come a time when I go back into my bookmarks and start removing entire folders.

What about you? You've likely got a start page. It's no secret mine is FriendFeed, as it has been all year. I am also a regular visitor to Google Reader and Twitter to round out my news gathering, but what next? Are there still sites that are so necessary to visit frequently that they warrant bookmarking?