Greg Ritter has an interesting post on the value of Furl and its function in the creation of what he calls a “Personal Web.”
However, the most important thing Furl does is allow you to carve out a sub-section of the web that you’re interested in and deal with that sub-section in a Google-like manner, meaning being able to search the full text of the web pages. John Battelle hit the line drive on this back in April, calling it the Personal Web. Bookmarks are a list of page titles. A Personal Web — like a Furl collection — is a repository of content. It’s the difference between being the card catalog and being the library.
It’s worth clicking the link inside that quote to get an even more interesting perspective on the significance of Furl.
But wait…there’s more. You can share your PersonalWeb with others. And Mike just added a recommendation engine, so you can see links the service thinks will be interesting to you, based on what you’ve already Furl’d. Now, let’s play this out. Imagine Furl on, oh, Yahoo, for example. Or Google. You now have a massively scaled application where millions of people are creating their own personal versions of the web, and then sharing them with each other, driving massively statistically significant recommendations, and…some pretty damn useful metadata that can be fed into search engine algorithms, resulting in…yup, far better search (and…far better SFO (Search Find Obtain) opportunities).
Now from a student research standpoint, Furl is a no-brainer. The ability to capture full text and search it with all of your other saved pages truly does create a first step toward a personal piece of the Web. To be honest, Greg opened my eyes a bit when he talks about the power of that search function.
Furl is more valuable than other bookmark managers, because it indexes the full text of every page I “furl.” Not just the page title, not just the metadata I add, but the full text of the page. I quickly did away with categorizing “furled” pages once I realized I can use Furl’s fairly decent, Google-like query syntax. That’s great because hierarchies are bitch to maintain and keep relevant (just ask Yahoo). Furl is like Lookout for bookmarks. Or, more to the point, it’s like Google for bookmarks.
I’ve got a slew of categories that are becoming a bit unwieldy. I use them primarily because I think I’m going to want to push that category’s links with the XML feed to various pages on my site. (Still working on that.) I’m going to need to get into the habit of furching more often…