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Furl and Spurl
Saturday, July 31, 2004
Bookmarks are so yesterday. They reside on one machine; I compute on three. Bookmarks are browser-specific; I use Firefox unless MS zealots or lazy designers force me to use IE; my wife uses Opera. And sharing booksmarks with others is not simple.

Two free services have sprung up to address these issues. While Spurl and Furl sound the same, their functions are different.

Spurl is an online links list. Click a button and Spurl saves the URL, page title, and your comment on the web. You can begin by uploading your bookmarks file. You can also download. Or you can create a "directory" and share your finds with others. For example, when redoing a webpage this afternoon, I needed to look up a few things about color combinations and CSS options. When I found my answers, from places I'd ended up on past projects, I Spurled them. Here are my Design Links.

Furl saves entire pages. Its creators describe it as an electronic filing cabinet. Take a look at my public Furl archive. Furl is dedicated to making it easy for users to archive, recall, share, and discover useful information on the Web. You can even set up RSS to notify people when you add to your store of material.

See the difference? Say you read a great article in Wired or the New York Times. To save or share it, you'd use Furl. If your intent was to read Wired or the Times issue after issue, you'd Spurl it. Think "F" for file; hence Furl. Think "S" for subscribe; hence Spurl.

Both Furl and Spurl offer several modes of looking at things. You can have your private view, which simply puts what used to be on your machine and makes it accessible on the web. You can have a public view, where you share what you've found. You can look at other people's selections, or you can look at summary results by popularity.

I love the metaphor of these new tools. They help you individually. They enable you to help others. They are drop-dead simple to install and use. They are free. You can't ask for much more than that.

For years, before this blog became popular, the most visited page on my sites was the eLearning Jump Page . I may simply convert the links there to Furl and Spurl and shut the sucker down.

After I wrote this, I went ahead and Furled/Spurled the links on my Design Page. This gets tricky. One is six links were dead, abandoned, or FUBAR. A few others were trends that never went anywhere. I lost a few pages I wished I'd Furled while I could.

If I come upon Joe Blow's neat reference page on the web, do I Furl it or Spurl it? That depends on my confidence that Joe will be around for a while. (Some great stuff has disappeared from the web in the past two or three years). If I expect Joe to be here, I'll Spurl him, figuring I'll get new content on my next visit. If I figure Joe's webpage will disappear, I'll Furl it, so he doesn't fall entirely off my radar.

I started cruising around to look at consensus favorites at both Spurl and Furl. That's something you don't get from your traditional, orphaned bookmark list.

I took off for an hour to walk Latte the longhaired dachshund through the swirling fog here on the hill. As we walked, I flashed on how if you ask someone where they bank, they usually tell you what bank provides their checking account. That's because their checking account is used often and is sometimes the interface to their other financial relationships. Most people have much more significant financial relationships with their mortgage company, their broker, and even their credit card issuers than with the bank they identify as theirs.

What brought this to mind was a recording of Doug Kaye talking Tim O'Reilly that I downloaded from the web and into my pociet mp3 player. Tim recounted asking audiences at general conferences, "How many of you use Linux?" and having perhaps one in five raise their hand. Then he'd ask how many use Google or Amazon, everyone raised their hands, and Tim would point out that Google and Amazon both run on Linux.

So too, most of us running Windows on our local machines fail to recognize that an increasing amount of our work is shifting to the net. I'm particularly sensitive to this, what with testing Gmail and an online desktop, being a web junky, and running a number of Linux-housed websites.

Spurl and Furl are just a couple more drops in the bucket of software running "over your machine" instead of inside of it. Sic transit gloria mundi


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spurl saves content too. See

6:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:03 AM  

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