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I Know I Saw It Somewhere…

By - January 22, 2004

Nice piece in the NYT today, in Circuits no less, about finding stuff you’ve seen online before. The author speaks to researchers working on the cluttered and useless Bookmarks feature found in most browsers. (One researcher compares Bookmarks to a messy closet no one wants to open). Researchers found that “some people try to keep track of Web sites by sending themselves an e-mail message with the link and a note of why it might be useful. Others print pages or use sticky notes. Some people, the researchers found, make no attempt to save a page, counting on being able to find it again with a search engine.” Sound familiar?

The article references the MSFT Research project called Stuff I’ve Seen, which automatically watches sites you’ve been to and recalls them based on keyword searches, regardless of whether you bookmarked it. A good idea, I think. MSFT says it is considering adding it to Longhorn, but will probably not break it out as a separate utility.

PS – Dave Winer points to a new beat application that addresses this problem: Furl. I like the premise: Furl is a new web browsing tool that lets you save and organize thousands of useful web pages (you know, the ones you want to save for future reference but then can never find again) in a personal “web page filing cabinet”.

Once saved, you can effortlessly find any page again later using a powerful full text search tool. With Furl you can forget trying to save and organize dozens of bookmarks, forget saving web pages to your desktop, in fact forget everything except how to find a useful web page again next time you need it.


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12 thoughts on “I Know I Saw It Somewhere…

  1. victor says:

    I’m with you on your first impulse John. My ‘furl’ is called MoveableType. I setup a private blog that is just for ‘favorites’ making extensive use of categories. For machines I control I pump it into search pane with a little edit/search box (with regex turned on). When I’m at a page I want to keep I click on ‘Post’ and I don’t have to think any more.

  2. Software to search through all pages you ever visited has been available for a while. Take a look at AimAtSite or Seruku. Even the IE history feature claims to have this kind of search capability, but I think it has a fairly short-lived memory.

  3. Sure, having a separate blog category (or blog) for links is one approach. As is saving lots of links in your blog. But what happens when you want to find that article again a few months from now? Or a year or two later? Do you walk through all of your links/posts looking for it? Do you hope you remember the brief comment you made at the time? Unlikely. But you probably remember a few fragments of the article. And that is part of what makes Furl special/powerful. It basically becomes your own Google with full text search of everything you’ve read. And you still get RSS and simple integration into your website so you can share your links.

    And yes, AimAtSite and Seruku are great if you only use the Internet from a single machine, don’t want to share your links, and trust yourself (and their software) to be able to port all the data across when you buy a new machine/OS.

  4. victor says:

    Hey, Michael, I have no doubt you’ve done a bang up job on furl, but you’ll have a hard time convincing me my system doesn’t work. You know, for me ;) I’ve been using it for almost a year, I find everything I need.

    (I just looked it up, the first link I entered was: http://skepdic.com )

  5. I’ve been using del.icio.us as a “social bookmark manager”, works nicely for the purposes.

  6. Adam Lasnik says:

    I’m entering this arena (of bookmarking) cautiously. I know (and have known for ages) that simple IE bookmarking is completely un-scalable and practically useless. I spend at least 8 hours on the Internet daily, and likely see hundreds if not over a thousand of pages each day.

    I’ve thought of Seraku, but alas, it doesn’t integrate into myIE (and I can’t stand the regular IE browser… ack!).

    I’ve read tons about del.icio.us and in fact it seems to offer even more functionality than Furl with one (major) exception: it doesn’t index full text.

    So I guess the “best” option might be:
    – Seraku if you have a sporadic connection to the net, have no interest in sharing your links, and work primarily on one computer.
    – Del.icio.us (what an awful name!) if you are primarily interested in sharing your links and in discovering other interesting links.
    – Furl if you want to share a bit, but are primarily interested in being able to quickly grab a particular article that you read 8 months ago using a few keywords.

    I wonder if there are other similar offerings that I’m missing.

  7. Numit says:

    Yeeeahd, it’s csool

  8. Weird. This story disappeared from your homepage John. Did you mean to remove it?

    I’ve become addicted to Save This for bookmarking stuff for later retrieval, especially since you can add brief comments, story them in folders, etc. More friendly than BackFlip, I think, though I don’t use it to store links permanently.

  9. Sorry, I didn’t disappear – apparently, I’m still living in Janaury.

  10. Shantanu Oak says:

    There is no doubt that furl is one of the best applications. But I have 3 suggestions if all the excitement has cooled down.
    1) Importing from IE:
    Is it possible that IE bookmarks being synchronized in just one click instead of exporting from IE and then importing in furl?
    http://upsave.com/cgi-bin/main.pl?mode=tools
    Upsave and a few others have done it very well.

    2) Duplicate bookmarks:
    Is there any way to find out the duplicate links I have furled (twice) by mistake?

    3) Collaboration:
    since furl is a mix of both, blog and bookmark manager, it’s not a blog nor a bookmark manager. I was expecting that a single URL can be saved by me and others can comment on it. But it seems that everyone in my group needs to furl and comment on it in his own workspace. Then somehow I have to find out a page where the names and comments of the people are listed discussing the link. I will like to see a simple comment feature as supported by any other blog software.

  11. Tim says:

    I have used Surfsaver http://surfsaver.com for years – saves web pages into an ASKSam Database that has full text indexing and searching. Powerful, unfortunately only works with IE, and has a quirky interface.

    I’ve also used Mybase http://www.wjjsoft.com/, which has excellent ability to save and recreate web pages, but search isn’t as good. Also only I.E so far.

  12. Radek says:

    ContentSaver Pro (http://www.macropool.com/en/) is a way better then Onfolio.