One of the many things I love about the Portland startup scene is the whole “prairie dog” thing. No, not that prairie dog silly. No, not that one either. I mean how startups will pop up their proverbial heads with something cool and then immediately head underground to get to work on the next product or feature. Then, they’ll suddenly resurface again.
Anyone who has spent any time around Silicon Florist realizes that I tend to be a little longwinded. And that’s putting it lightly. Brevity? Not my strong suit. And for many, reading through my lengthy posts isn’t the preferred way of getting their tech news.
So, I’ve been thinking about ways to get you more of the news you want with less effort on your part. And a different form of media seemed to be the best way to do it. So I begged started talking to the Strange Love Live folks and after a series of tantrums and crying fits on my part discussions, they finally agreed to help.
[HTML2]Now, you may not realize this, but during my day job I’m constantly sifting through media reports. Gargantuan PDFs or documents that contain a series of clipped links and snippets about specific clients or subjects. The reports are unwieldy at best. And I can only imagine what kind of workload this effort creates for the agencies that compile them for me—and any number of other clients—on a daily basis.
Long story short, the whole “tracking media coverage” thing—whether for PR firms or otherwise—could use some help. And don’t even get me started on the whole social media angle.
[Full disclosure: Iterasi is a client of mine. As such, I have been privy to discussions about this topic. While I have acted as a sounding board on the concept, I have not directly participated in the development or marketing of this product.]
Times are tough for everyone. Especially startups. So tough, that people are starting with the crazy talk. Crazy talk like “Gee I don’t know. Maybe we should actually pay to use that functionality?” This time, those crazy people are users of Portland-based Iterasi‘s currently free product who are interested in seeing the service sticking around.
Iterasi’s response? The customer—or would be customer in this case—is always right. Read More
[Full disclosure: Iterasi is a client and I’ve been working with AboutUs on a top-secret widget project.]
If you’ve ever been looking for dated information on the Web, you’ve likely come across the Wayback Machine on the Internet Archive. No site provides such a detailed reference to the yester-Web, allowing us to reach back to forgotten history and grab snippets of the Web as it once was.
But for all the compliments I can pile on the Wayback Machine, it is not without its flaws.
The biggest gripe? The Wayback Machine only archives HTML. That means that any image files or CSS that is needed to render a page doesn’t get archived. Which means if that information gets deleted from the original server, then the Wayback Machine archives don’t render properly.
Needless to say, a bunch of pages render poorly.
My other complaint? The Wayback Machine wasn’t created in the Silicon Forest. But that’s just how I am.
Okay. That’s Wayback Machine 1.0. Hold that thought.
Now, when it comes to accessing current information about any Web site, few resources can compete with the simplicity and ease-of-use of Portland-based AboutUs. Even if AboutUs doesn’t have a current page about a site, they’ll render one in a matter of seconds. So, typing “http://aboutus.org/[whatever URL you want]” is about the easiest way to get information on any site—as it currently exists.
There’s just one problem: seeing how a site looked in the past isn’t always that simple. You can review the Wiki change tracking, but that’s not always the best way of assessing the changes to the site. And if you just added the site to AboutUs, you have no idea what the site looked like previously.
Now for that historical reference, Portland-based Iterasi is about the easiest way to see how a site looked in the past.
But Iterasi has its own flaw: the archive isn’t terribly broad. It’s deep for certain “Web 2.0 cool kid” sites, but it could use more breadth.
If only AboutUs could find a site that helped provide the historical reference they’re missing. If only Iterasi could find a site that could help extend the breadth of their Web archive.
Well welcome to a “You got your archive in my current information! You got your current information pointing to my archive!” moment as two great Portland tastes have found a way to taste great together.
That’s right. AboutUs and Iterasi are partnering. And the result could be what we’ve all been wanting the Wayback Machine to provide: current details and accurate historical renderings.
Welcome to the Wayback Machine 2.0.
Sure, the Iterasi link isn’t huge, but it is important.
Now, you can visit AboutUs to get the latest information about any given site. Looking for historical information? Iterasi is there to provide the archived pages that they have on file. Voila!
So why is this cool? Well for a whole bunch of reasons. It gives the AboutUs user a very cool new feature (obviously…right!). AboutUs users can now search through the iterasi archive to research the evolution of the Website, search for information of historical significance, whatever. For iterasi, it should be a source of traffic to our site where we can hopefully turn them into happy users as well.
Now, we’ve partnered with the smart folks at Iterasi to give their archive greater visibility and provide the people visiting AboutUs with an additional resource for information about websites and the organizations and people attached to them. Now at every AboutUs page, you’ll find a link to the Iterasi Archive of pages relating to that site.
Ugh. I hate this stuff. But I’d rather that people know what’s happening for the sake of those seeking new gigs.
I’m sad to report that Portland-based Iterasi has had to layoff employees. They fall into the group of angel- and VC-backed companies who are forced to make preventative cuts in an effort to conserve cash.
As many of you know, I’ve had the opportunity to consult with Iterasi on an ongoing basis. Like many Portland startups, they had assembled an amazing team. It’s sad to hear that the team is going to be smaller, now.
To our teammates who are leaving, you will be missed.We were a small team of star performers that made great products in a great company.We are a smaller team now and better off for having had you on our side.I am sure the Portland community will gobble you up quickly.Talent like you guys is hard to find.
For more information, see Iterasi’s post. And, if anyone has gigs for these folks, please by all means, speak up.
[Full disclosure: Iterasi is a client of mine. I was briefed on these features while they were in development and I was involved in on-going consulting as they came to fruition. I recommend you read this post with that grain of salt in mind.]
Portland-based Iterasi is on a mission to save the Web from extinction. Or at least the Web page at which you’re looking right at this moment. So they keep coming up with ways for you to save Web pages—in all of their functional HTML glory—as quickly and easily as possible.
First came the toolbar, then the Firefox add-in, and now there’s the Iterasi bookmarklet, which allows users to save pages without installing anything. To try it out, click on the link below and you’ll see how it works. (And if you want to take it with you, simply drag-and-drop it to your bookmarks bar.)
In addition to the new bookmarklet, Iterasi has done more organizing to make their archive of Web pages for accessible and digestible. Tags are more prevalent and usable. And there’s a search function.
You save a page, make it public, and it winds up on the archive page for that site. Just the push of a button and you’ve made history. Or at least saved it for everyone to see. And while there’s not much there now, this has the potential to become a valuable resource for everyone. A sort of Wikipedia-esque archive of the Web.
For more on the new features, see Iterasi’s post. To test drive the products or search the archive, visit Iterasi.
[Full disclosure: Iterasi is a client of mine. I was aware of this feature under development, but I was not involved in this release. Quite frankly, it took me by surprise. But it makes sense that they’re pushing it while they’re down at the TechCrunch 50.]
Okay. That may be a little hyperbolic, but there’s a lot of truth to that.
With social bookmarking, I was able to save site locations, tag them in a meaningful way, and get to them from any browser with an Internet connection.
It may not seem like a big deal now. But back then? It was “You mean my bookmarks aren’t beholden to this one browser on this one machine? Oh my. Very cool.”
But my bookmarks always suffered from a problem that I couldn’t solve with just a link.
And that was? Well, sometimes the page just changed. The story or the thing I thought was important or—worst of all—the cool design that I wanted to rip-off save for inspiration.
Screenshots were a workaround. But they were never really what I wanted.
What I wanted was to save the page.
Fast forward to today.
I’m sitting on a ton of bookmarks. I use social bookmarking sites like ma.gnolia and del.icio.us every day, if not several times a day. They have become so much a part of the way that I use the Web—and the way that I share and glean information from others—that social bookmarking would be an incredibly hard habit to break.
But I still worry about losing the page I actually wanted.
Well, now, that problem is solved thanks to still just barely Vancouver-based and ever-so-close to being Portland-based Iterasi and their new “import bookmarks” feature:
This feature imports bookmarks from Firefox, Internet Explorer, del.icio.us and/or from any app that exports to the standard bookmark export format. So you tell it where your bookmarks are, we import them and make permanent copies of the pages the bookmarks point to. No more lost articles. No more link rot. No more Error 404s. But we don’t just import them. Import Bookmarks is built on top of the iterasi Scheduler – released last month – so one-by-one you can choose to archive each bookmark once, every day, week or month, or not a all.
Now, granted, that’s not going to do much for the links that have already aged. But from now on? I can be sure that I’ll have exactly the page I wanted to save.
Saving bookmarked pages in Iterasi is great, but not using Iterasi is even better
As excited as I am about this feature to extend the use of Iterasi, there’s one thing I’m even more excited about: not having to use Iterasi.
Huh? Stick with me here.
I’ve developed a workflow for saving links and—as chagrin as I am to admit it—Iterasi isn’t part of that workflow.
It’s an afterthought. A habit I’m trying to force.
But with this feature? That problem is solved, too.
Now that Iterasi can import bookmarks, I can work in my preferred social bookmarking tool and still have Iterasi saving the pages for me.
I can fly around willy nilly tagging things in del.icio.us or saving them to the Silicon Florist group on ma.gnolia. All the while, knowing that I can bring those over to Iterasi to make an archived copy.
And that’s pretty cool.
I can work where I’m comfortable working without losing the ability to save things I really want to save. And that makes this new import bookmarks feature very powerful indeed.
The feature, however, does come with a caveat:
If you have lots of bookmarks, it is best to schedule it to run when you are away from your computer. Think about it; we are feeding dozens and dozens of bookmarks down to the browser who is one-at-a-time loading, notarizing, and shipping each up to your account. In other words, we are torturing the poor browser. As you might expect, the browser can lock up under this kind of load. We find this situation to be unavoidable.