If you’ve read an article, a blog post, or nearly anything online lately, odds are good that you’ve seen something like this:

What are all the icons for? What does “SHARE” mean?

These icons are quick links that let you save or share links, cool videos, or anything you find online.

Why would you use them?

Well, say you reading a blog post and someone mentions this really neat online game site. Now, you want to share it with your sister. So, you open up your email, start a new message, cut/paste the URL, and send her the link. Oh, and you want to remember the site too, so you save it to your enormous list of favorites on your computer.

That was a lot of work. Oh, not to mention the fact that when you go over to visit later, your sister has deleted the email, your nephew wants to play one of those neat games you sent and you aren’t at your computer to look up the link. Much nephew crying ensues!

What if you used one of these fancy buttons instead? When you find the really neat online game site, you can click the link for delicious.

And you can save it to your list of bookmarks/favorites on delicious. Now, you’ll know where the link is, even if you aren’t at your own computer. Plus, if your sister has a delicious account, you can send it to her using delicious.You could use the Facebook button to share stories and links on your Facebook page too.

Just click the Facebook button, and you’ll share the link with all your friends.

Take a look at this fabulous explanation about social bookmarking by the folks over at CommonCraft.

Social Bookmarking in Plain English

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I’ll admit, it took me a while to see the usefulness of social bookmarking.

The first time I heard of delicious, the conversation went something like this:

Web savvy friend: “What is delicious and why should I care?”
Me: “Beats me. I’m not sure if we should care.”

Then a friend started using it and talked about how easy it was to find links to websites he wanted to remember. I decited to give it a try. Turns out, it was pretty useful after all.

I read several library blogs and lots of art and design blogs. There are always web sites I want to save and look at later. I used to email myself the links I was interested in – and once I hit send, the reminder about a cool web site was lost to me forever in a too-cluttered inbox. Where was that great programming idea I read about? Where did I see those awesome rain boots? Why can’t I find those directions for etching a design on an old Altoids box? This is just a sampling of the info eaten by my Inbox.

After I signed up for delicious, I got in the habit of saving sites I liked to my delicious account. So, when I came across Little Paper Planes, I saved it to delicious and assigned it the keywords (or tags) shopping, art, and design. Now, when I want to look for a unique gift for a friend, I can go to my delicious account and pull up the shopping websites I’ve saved. No digging through my inbox, no pulling out my hair looking for a scrap of paper. I just go to delicious and click on shopping. Cool.

Where does the social come in?

Social bookmarking programs are pretty handy as a personal web directory. But the social aspect refers to the public nature of the link collections. You can share all your favorite sites, with your friends just by sharing a link or sharing your username. If you have a friend who is a total design nut, you might want to take a look at the websites he likes because you’ll probably find something you like too.

You can also see who else saved a site you saved. So, you can see all the people who saved Little Paper Planes. Odds are, if you both saved Little Paper Planes, there might be other bookmarks that person has that you’ll like. It’s a way of finding new sites from other people with similar interests.

What if you’re not feeling social and don’t want to share? No problem. You can mark links “private” or “do not share” and you’ll be the only one who can see them.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:

1. Explore the delicious tag cloud links on Teen Web or Books Movies Music web pages.

2. Pick one:
a. For Teen Web, find all the links related to homework.
b. For Books Movies Music, find the book lists.

3. In the comments, let us know how you like using Delicious.

4. Take the survey..