Social bookmarking for the IT Pro

Managing technicians and equipment can provide quite a challenge for the new manager. The servers and workstations need constant monitoring and support but the people within the department need opportunities to grow and learn new technologies. Where does an IT manager look to ensure that all of these things are being accomplished as efficiently and effectively as possible?

Using a social bookmarking service, like TechNet Bookmarks, can help you easily store information that you may need at any given time. This new social bookmarking service was created to help users of the TechNet website keep track of items they read or sites they frequent. Any social bookmarking service can be useful for these items, however TechNet bookmarks is geared toward technical users and if you are visiting TechNet for information on a regular basis, why not store your bookmark list there as well.

Account Setup

Many of you reading this have probably heard of delicious.com, the social bookmarking application from Yahoo!. The Microsoft Technet Social Bookmarks application is quite similar, but the focus falls to technical users who use the Technet website. To get started, sign in with your Microsoft passport at http://www.technetbookmarks.com and create a profile.

Once you have created an account, you can provide some information about yourself, and upload a photo, and then begin saving bookmarks. Each time you login to TechNet bookmarks and return to your profile, you will see a list of the bookmarks you have added recently.

A brief version of my profile is shown below.

My Profile

My Profile

As you add bookmarks to the system you can share them with the TechNet community and other users of the application or mark them as private to keep them for yourself.

Contexts for bookmarking

While this post is primarily concerned with the TechNet and IT Professional role for Social bookmarking, there are other sites at Microsoft where the service is available. This allows others, such as programmers or designers to store bookmarks and have content shared with others using the service like they are. For example, if a programmer visits http://social.msdn.microsoft.com and stores bookmarks, others accessing the website from the MSDN context of the application will see those bookmarks when they are discovered by the service. Someone who visits the TechNet side of the application at http://social.technet.microsoft.com will not see the bookmarks stored in the MSDN context.

This helps the application focus on a specific scope. Allowing IT Professionals to see content related to TechNet and developers to see content related to MSDN.

Once you begin using the service, any of the contextual sites you visit, will allow you to see your bookmarks when logging in, regardless of where you were when you saved them.

Existing bookmarks online or off

In addition to managing new bookmarks online with Microsoft TechNet Social, you can also import bookmarks stored in your web browser or in other social bookmarking services. This will help you keep all of your bookmarks in one application, and make them accessible from anywhere there is a browser and Internet connection.

The application also has bookmarklets and browser extensions to make using the TechNet Social bookmarks site even easier. To install these items, simply click the tools link at the top of the page. Doing so will provide all of the links to tools and importers available with the service. This page is shown below.

Tools available for easier use and importing

Tools available for easier use and importing

When importing bookmarks from another service, like delicious.com, you will need to export your existing bookmarks to a file and import the file into Social. The goal of importing is to make your bookmarks accessible from any web browser and keep them all in one place. Because all browsers support bookmarks or favorites, the concept of storing frequently used web addresses has been around a long time, social bookmarking allows content to be shared by a team or just accessed from anywhere, making them even more useful.

The Microsoft TechNet Social bookmarking application is relatively new so the best advice I can give about getting started is to jump in with both feet and give it a whirl, it might make your memory for those once in a great while fixes a bit longer and easier to thumb through. There may be additional posts in the future as I play with the application and see new features that may help you manage your online resources, but for now creating an account and adding some links is a great place to start.

Get started with a few bookmarks

There are many resources online, including TechNet for the infrastructure items. I have compiled a list of resources that many technology managers may find useful.

  • TechRepublic – a collection of blogs on all things IT. From the latest gadgets or patches to the best advice on handling career moves or issues at work.
  • BNet – a business management blog by CBS Interactive
  • Experts-Exchange – a community driven support site available for solving technology problems
  • Petri.co.il – a technology knowledge base created by MS MVP Daniel Petri

This list is certainly not all inclusive, but can assist IT managers in solving both technical and non-technical issues.

Until next time… happy bookmarking.