I was late to the game with del.icio.us. I had visited a few times but it never really clicked with me. I just didn't get it. Lists upon lists upon lists was all I saw in a very spartan unintuitive interface.
Two things have clued me in. First was the recent purchase of del.icio.us by Yahoo. From OddPost to Flickr, Yahoo has definitely been making great choices with its acquisitions. So why del.icio.us? After some digging I came across this article titled Interview With Experts: What's so cool about del.icio.us?. Apparently I wasn't the only one who was having trouble grasping the importance of this site. From the article:
Delicious is, basically, a social bookmarking service. In a nutshell, that means that Delicious stores lists of bookmarks for me and tens of thousands of my closest friends, and we all get to see and search through each other's lists.
The final step that brought it home for me was signing up for an account and actually trying it. Wow. Now I get it. After using del.icio.us for less than a day I can now say confidently that the Bookmarks systems within browsers is seriously lacking. Broken even.
I add new links to my browser bookmarks daily but since organizing is such a pain it just gets appended to a giant multi-page scrolling menu of bookmarks. The list is so daunting that I rarely actually go back and use those bookmarks. I typically will try to re-find a site through Google for many minutes before even considering scanning the monstrous list. And even then just giving up is more appealing.
Del.icio.us uses 'tagging' to help you organize your links and without a doubt bookmarks and tagging were meant for each other. And since the bookmarks and tags are all shared and co-mingled with other people's bookmarks and tag, you get that warm squishy good feeling knowing you are contributing to some larger useful system. I've been converted.