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The Net Takeaway: Furl and Bookmarks...

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Danny Flamberg's Blog
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Eric Peterson the Demystifier
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Furl and Bookmarks... · 08/28/2004 01:07 PM, Reference Search

I’ve been a long time user of Blinkpro, a commercial bookmark manager. I have a LOT of bookmarks. How many? Well, I haven’t counted them in a while… but my exported bookmarks.html file is now 2.6 megs.

So, I’ve been very bummed that Blinkpro has started to muck up a bit. I understand that the owner, the smart Ari Paparo (and creator of the recently popular NYWiki) has a day job and a couple of cool hobbies, so I get that Blinkpro may not be top of his list…

But recent errors have led me to look at other options for storing my knowledge. While I’m willing to pay for the solution (I pay BlinkPro some bucks a month), I had some requirements:

Stuff I don’t care about that everyone else does:

I’ll get one of my biases out right now: I think the “community” aspect of these things is kind of a joke: why? People don’t organize themselves, so you wind up just having lists of thousands of people and their bookmarks. Sure, most popular ones float to the top, but then what…? Clay Shirky (of course) loves this aspect of things, read all about it where he also lists a few sites that I haven’t gotten to yet. But watch, if these sites don’t orient their research aspects, they will all disappear. Again, personal bias, you may love the social part of this, so don’t ignore it.

Also, Blinkpro is a pretty tough act to follow. For all my complaints, I push it pretty hard and it does a nice job. So, if you are looking for an online bookmark manager, and are willing to accept that search is good but not great, Blinkpro is a good place to start.

Besides 3rd party sites, I there are a couple of open-source “DIY” options. So, here’s what I’ve seen so far:

Furl
Darling of the blog set, check it out here. Web site, so usable across machines. Clever idea: Pulls in the content of the bookmarked page and allows you to search that as well. Nice touch.

Notes:

Bookmark4U
Open-source project, available here. Most full featured of the open source projects, this now includes an address book and calendar, 2 things that have no business being in a bookmark manager. Like most open-source projects, little to no docs, too many little detail features, not enough power features. Remember, you have to run this on your own hosting.

Notes:

Sitebar
Open-source project, available here. Emphasis on team/group sharing, and on being in the sidebar. This becomes annoying fast; every screen is 160 pixels wide. That being said, most refined UI features, including DragnDrop and right-click menus. Remember, you have to run this on your own hosting.

Notes:

So, what’s the winner? Well, if Furl can get their display together, it will wind up being the most powerful. But currently, hard to settle on it for real work when its just a long list. Yes, good searching, but still… So, playing with B4U and Sitebar, but still relying on BlinkPro (bad searching and all) with more Furl dabbling.

(Also beyond just bookmarks, there are often other knowledge bits one wants to store. I’ve tried Wikis (phpwiki, tiki), CMS systems (Drupal, Mambo), Mind-maps (most recently, TheBrain) and now Textpattern. They all still suck for organizing knowledge for more than just a dump file (if I want a dump file, I have the most powerful tool of all: Notepad). So, more to come on this front another time. BTW, though Drupal would be better if it had more wikiness, it comes the closest to being the best CMS I’ve used yet. )

Slashdot discussion from Nov, 2004: http://ask.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/11/13/0056216&tid=96

Others to examine:
Web Sites
del.icio.us, another darling of the blogger set
Simpy which I know nothing about, but looks good and has a Yahoo Group for it: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/simpy-user/. The author is a Java whiz (http://www.jroller.com/page/otis/Weblog) so it may become one to watch!
MyBookmarks Dunno about quality
MyHQ Dunno about quality
Spurl Dunno about quality
IKeepBookmarks Dunno about quality
UpSave
NetSnippets
Hyperlinkomatic
linkaGoGo (because someone linked to this site from there! Referrers do matter! and they are Boston based, so a local company to me)
Sync2it
http://sourceforge.net/projects/bookmarksync
http://www.weblens.org/bookmarks.html (a list of sites from 1997, perhaps out of date?)
Booby, GPL, which gets the award for best tagline: A Multithingy Something. Like many groupware/cms systems, it stores bookmarks and more but by being lowest common denominator, these all seem to suffer compared to the dedicated tools.
Active PHP Bookmarks once dead now back again?

Tools
Onfolio = $30 client side software
Mozilla Bookmark Synchronizer
VisualMarks (formerly commercial, now free, clientside, takes screen shots)
http://favoritesync.com/products/favoritesync/index.jsp
AimAtSite, Seruku Toolbars, Recall Toolbar
Surfsaver (based on AskSam)
ContentSaver Pro (http://www.macropool.com/en/)
BKM open source client side bookmark editor, in VB and Python

A nod to the late but not well known Speedle. Made by the folks who invented collaborative filtering, Firefly, after they moved on from Microsoft. http://dijest.editthispage.com/discuss/msgReader$400.

Finally, note that Simpy, like so many others, gets it wrong about the navigation GMail has the same problem. Once you scale, the inability to focus down on a specific subject area in a visual fashion and understand how categories nest becomes problematic. Flat navs are inherently broken, and I can only hope that folks realize this sooner rather than later. We see this now on the new search-engine companies selling combined “index and nav” systems, which allow both structured searching (“Wine: Red: Calif: 2002: etc.”) as well as “traditional” keyword searching, ala EasyAsk. See also my later post, I Hate Tags

* * *

 

  1. If fielded searches (you called it structured searches in the blog entry) solve hiearachy issues, then Simpy does it: http://www.simpy.com/simpy/FAQ.do#searchFields

    No?


    Otis    Sep 22, 03:29 AM    #


  2. No, as I point out at the end of the query, Simpy and many others get it completely wrong. Hierarchies ALONE are going to fail on massive info stores... but skipping them entirely is just as dangerous. Simpy and many of these others refuse to even allow a hierarchy, instead providing many categories... but all in parallel. This makes "drilling down" impossible, and provides no guide or clue into HOW to navigate a knowledge space.

    As my last paragraph points out, many modern tools in the e-commerce site search engine space are providing "structured search" which display the drill down approach as well as the unstructured "type in a keyword". Note that its more than just constraining the search to a category ala Simpy, its actually giving dimensions to a flat structure. Look at the advanced search on the left nav at NewEgg, or the "parametric search" at Buy.com

    IMHO, Gmail, Simpy, and the rest will add features like this within the year, or discover that most of the information they collect for users becomes inaccessible.
    Michael Wexler    Sep 22, 09:53 AM    #


  3. You can organize your bookmarks with Advanced URL Catalog a
    bookmark manager compatible with all browsers.


    Daniel    Jan 28, 04:34 PM    #


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