Looksmart Acquires Furl

I’ve recently posted about Furl, a site that allows you to archive bits of the web that you do not want to disappear. An email went out yesterday to Furl users indicating that it has been acquired by Looksmart. This is a very interesting development, for a few reasons.

While discussing Furl with those who were unfamiliar with it, many asked what the drawbacks were. I noted that most of them had to do with archiving locally, and the issue of whether maintenance and bandwidth costs would kill it when it got popular. Or, more likely, whether it would be sued out of existence by, for example, major media outlets. Major investment has at least shored up the first threat: with enough funding it should be around for a while. But it further complicates the second issue. How will the new company deal with IP questions? It seems to me that it is opening itself up a lot of liability; not a problem if you are a garage-company, a bit more if you actually have some assets. They do have the “don’t do anything bad” section in their ToS, but then, so did Napster.

In either case, Furl will be a project to watch. I’ve been planning on making a WordPress plugin for Furl, but as Matt notes, the better path would be to keep local archives. Those local archives could then provide an easily accessible directory to directory server crawlers, leading to a distributed global internet archive. Maybe if I have some spare time in the next months (or Lazyweb?).

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