Pearltrees Finds its Natural Home on the iPad


Pearltrees, the Paris-based curation and discovery startup, just launched its long-awaited iPad app earlier this week. The company’s service allows users to bookmark interesting websites and arrange them into hierarchically organized tree structures – or “pearls” in the company’s parlance. I’ve been a fan of Pearltrees ever since I first met the team in Paris about two years ago and have been using their service here for my daily “Catching Up” posts. What makes the service stand out from its competitors is the visual appeal of how you collect and organize your “pearls.” The drag-and-drop interface takes the work out of bookmarking, but while the web interface works quite well, one can’t help but feel that the touch interface on the iPad is actually the most natural way to use the service.

Pearltrees ipad large pearls

The Pearltrees team managed to keep the interface very fluid and responsive, while keeping virtually all of the functionality of the web app in place. There are a couple of interesting twists in the iPad app, too, though. While the web interface directly takes you to a website once you click on a pearl, the iPad app actually opens a preview of the site with an Instapaper-like view of the text on the site on the right and a screenshot of the page on the left. Depending on the site, the text may only be an excerpt or the full text, but this is still an easier way to browse than having to load the full page on a potentially slow connection (you can, of course, always bring up the regular website, too).

Another features of the app is the ability to find related sites, which works surprisingly well. As the company’s CEO Patrice Lamothe told me earlier this week, the idea here is to show you interesting content based on what the Pearltrees community has collected. He also stressed that users should think about the service as a social system that based upon shared interests and not so much the follower/fan idea of other networks.

Pearltrees related interestes

Browsing and organizing pearls, then, is pretty easy in the app, but what about the actual curation? Apple, after all, doesn’t allow users to install plugins for mobile Safari. Instapaper and similar app all use JavaScript-based bookmarklets to give their users some of the functionality of their full-blown browser extensions on iOS and Pearltrees decided to do the same. While this process is often a bit daunting, though, the app actually includes a step-by-step guide that makes it pretty easy.

Getting Started

The app is available for free in the iTunes store. An iPhone/iPod touch version is also in the works and should come out before the end of the year. For now, the service remains free. Pearltrees plans to institute a freemium model soon, with a focus on private sharing and curation.


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Back to Beta: Delicious Returns With a New Design and Focus


Delicious, the venerable Web 2.0 social bookmarking site once known as, debuted its new design and feature set today. After its sale to Yahoo, the site lingered in extended hibernation for years, but it was finally acquired by the YouTube founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen earlier this year. The two promised to restore Delicious to its former glory and to start adding new features soon. Today, Delicious is launching its new design which favors large, bold images over the text-centric view of the previous design. In the best tradition of Web 2.0 sites, it is also calling the service, which has been online since 2003, a ‘beta.’

As for new features, Delicious is now offering its users the ability to curate ‘stacks’ of links. These are lists of links to sites, photos and/or videos that you can then share with others one the service (or the rest of the Web, of course). Delicious calls them “playlists for the Web.” You can also follow stacks from other users.


Familiar Design + A Few New Features = A Good Start of the New Delicious

While the new owners obviously made some changes to the overall design, the general feel of the site will still feel very familiar to those who used Delicious in the past. The blue and white color scheme, for example, is still there. Some of the other changes are minor, but point toward the general direction the new owners are planning to take the site: the navigation has been simplified, bookmarks are now called links, and users can set profile pictures. The new owners also promise to make the site more social than ever before.

At the same time, it’s also important to note that all the tools in the Delicious ecosystem (browser extensions, bookmarklets etc.) and the service’s API will continue to work.

Some Problems

There are some issues with the new site, though. There are, for example, no RSS feeds anymore that you could subscribe to. Those users who forgot to opt-in to transfer their bookmarks to the new site by logging in over the last few weeks will now also come to the site and realize that their login credentials won’t work anymore and that all of their old bookmarks are gone.

Overall though, it feels as if the new Delicious is off to a good start. The new homepage looks far more inviting than the original one and the focus seems to be shifting more toward discovery than just the basic Web 2.0 staple of bookmarking and tagging sites.

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In a World of Share-It-and-Forget-It Sharing, Is There Still a Place for Delicious?


The more I think about the Delicious acquisition by YouTube founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen, the less sense it makes to me. Delicious was one of the staples of the Web 2.0 movement – a time where everybody was talking about sharing and tagging. In reality, however, Delicious didn’t just linger in Yahoo’s care without many updates because Yahoo didn’t care, Delicious’ concept of bookmark sharing simply wasn’t an idea that seemed very appealing to Yahoo’s mainstream audience and hence probably didn’t justify the expense of developing new features.

For most users, bookmarks live in the browser and thanks to built-in or third-party sync, the only problem Delicious solved for these users (having a central repository of your bookmarks) hasn’t been an issue for years now. If anything, apps like Instapaper, as Gigaom’s Mathew Ingram also notes, have jumped into this niche with features that actually solve a problem for their users.

Update: While I wrote this, Delicious’ own founder Joshua Schachter told CNN that he himself also thinks that the service’s time has passed.

Share More – Bookmark Less

It’s a strange phenomenon, though: On the one hand, we probably share more today than we ever did thanks to services like Twitter and Facebook. The thing there, though, is that these are share-it-and-forget-it services. We send a link to Twitter and Facebook – maybe have a short discussion about them with our friends – and move on. Need to find something again? Just Google it.

There still seem to be some niche users for Delicious (sharing links with students, colleagues etc.), but for the most part, there are plenty of other solutions for this now as well, especially when you want to curate content and not just share some bookmarks.

My personal feeling then, is that there really isn’t much use of services like Delicious on the Internet today – mainstream users never cared in the first place and advanced users have moved on to other, better tools. That, of course, doesn’t mean that Delicious’ new owners couldn’t turn the service around by making it useful once again. Pure bookmarking services, however, have outlived their usefulness.

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