I had the opportunity to preview some of the features and upcoming enhancements in Elsevier's 2collab bookmarking service. Some of the details I will provide are not in the released beta yet, but they should be out soon. (Disclaimer: this preview was set up for me by Elsevier, because of my blog.)
The basic interface and method of operation will be familiar to users of delicous or the more specialised science bookmarking and bibliography-management services like Connotea, Zotero and CiteULike. I do have to remind myself that most people doing academic work are not aware of such services, and Elsevier is of course well-positioned to reach huge numbers of users in the course of their daily interactions with its content.
2collab is a completely free, open, stand-alone service. I made a point of asking about import and export of bookmarks and both are supported. Once you're logged into your account, you can go to manage and select "import bookmarks" or "export bookmarks". The version of import I was shown supported various other bookmarking services. You can export in various fairly simple file formats.
In terms of bookmarking it doesn't yet have the ability to import very rich metadata. It can get good information (journal, title, volume, pages etc.) from PubMed, Scopus and ScienceDirect, but for other services it just works like a plain URL bookmarker. I suggested they might look into either or both of
- being able to read COINS microformat and encouraging sites to including COINS
- an infrastructure to build site translators either similar to Zotero's or ideally sharing the same technology as Zotero (assuming both groups would be willing)
A strength of 2collab is the ability to create an manage groups. I had experimented with creating a group in Connotea (ARL e-Science Task Force) but as far as I could tell, there was no way to have only particular bookmarks in it - it appears to show all the bookmarks from all the members of the group.
The 2collab group abilities appear better, you can create open public groups, closed public groups (you can see the bookmarks, but have to request membership in order to be able to add bookmarks) and completely private groups. When you make a bookmark, it will list your group memberships with a checkbox to select which groups to share with. You can also copy a bookmark into a group using the "edit bookmark" screen.
Any bookmarks you make are private by default, you have to explicitly share them by selecting a "make public" checkbox. If you try to copy a private bookmark to a public group, it will pop up a warning box and let you choose what you want to do.
You can rank and comment on bookmarks. You can get RSS feeds on tags, groups and users.
Not surprisingly they are taking some advantage of their access to Scopus data, it will automatically pull in the number of Scopus citations for an article, and if you know your Scopus Author ID(s), you can use that to pull in articles you have written (you can also mark yourself as an author when making a bookmark).
In the new version it will show a little blue "OWN" icon on bookmarks that you have made, and a little golden "AUT" icon on bookmarks of articles where you have indicated you are an author.
I asked them about APIs, they seemed fairly open to discussion, they described 2collab as a "data aggregation platform". You can get an idea of their current thinking from their blog posting Next Big Things - pt 1: integration is the key.
UPDATE 2007-11-28: More thoughts after working with the November 27th release and its new features. It is not yet a very tag-centric system. You can't do a mass rename or split of tags. You can't attach an explanation to a tag, a Connotea feature I use a lot to explain tags I use for particular presentations or reports. You also can't set an embargo period for a bookmark, it is only public or private. There is no way to "friend" another user or follow their bookmarks within the system (you can get RSS feeds to use externally). That being said, I do find the 2collab "fresh face" is a clean design and quite intuitive to use.