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Two New Web Information Managers Debut at DEMO@15
by
Posted On February 21, 2005
The annual DEMO conferences (http://www.demo.com) focus on emerging technologies and showcase approximately 70 hand-selected new companies, products, and technologies. At the recent DEMO@15, held in Scottsdale, Ariz., two companies introduced new products in the hot area of Web information management. Pluck Corp., which launched a beta product in May 2004, unveiled the first commercial version of its personal Web information center, Pluck 1.0. The product is aimed at Web users who want to save, organize, and store Web pages. Onfolio unveiled Onfolio 2.0, which combines RSS feed reading, local capture, and personal Web publishing in a single PC application. The client-based Web information management product is geared to the needs of business professionals, academics, and researchers. While the products have some similarities, including RSS feed capture in both, the companies are positioning them for different markets and are using different revenue models.

Pluck 1.0

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Pluck
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Pluck 1.0 is now freely available as a browser plug-in for Microsoft Internet Explorer and as a Web-based service (http://www.pluck.com). The company plans to release a plug-in for the Mozilla Firefox browser in the spring, according to co-founder and CEO Dave Panos. The Web version works on any browser. Panos said, "Pluck was created with the single goal of helping any individual take advantage of the Web's latest capabilities, quickly, easily, and free of charge."

Users can import bookmarks and RSS feed subscriptions; they can organize, catalog, and store search results, Web pages, and other information in a single view. A user's personal stored information will be available from any computer or Web-enabled device. Users can also publish and share their collections via publicly available Web folders, and any portion of a user's personal data can be automatically turned into publicly available Web pages, hosted on the Internet for free by Pluck.

Pluck now offers a "Perch" feature (in the plug-in version) that lets users persistently search Google, eBay, Amazon, and thousands of news sites and blogs. Results are automatically retrieved, categorized, and stored in folders according to personal preferences. Users are also automatically notified when new items are found or prices change.

Pluck uses an affiliate marketing business model, collecting money when it sends users to sites like Amazon and eBay where they make purchases. It hopes to add contextual advertising at some point. Panos also said the company plans to embed Pluck within partner sites, such as publishers and portals, and is seeing considerable interest in this now.

Pluck was co-founded in 2003 by Panos and Andrew Busey, executives with a range of entrepreneurial experience. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, Pluck has received funding from Austin Ventures and Mayfield. Following upon its 1.0 launch announcement and debut at DEMO, Panos is optimistic and excited: "I think 2005 will be a watershed year [for this type of service], and we'll be right in the middle of it."

Onfolio 2.0

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Onfolio RSS Reader in Newspaper View
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Onfolio 2.0 extends the capture capabilities of the earlier version by adding an integrated, newspaper-style RSS reader that runs within Microsoft Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox. Combining RSS feed reading, local capture, and personal Web publishing in a single application, Onfolio puts all information together in an easy-to-read and easily searchable format that helps users build sources of information, organize that data, and share it with others. Additionally, the company announced that it has partnered with Feedster to bring persistent Web searching capabilities into the new release of Onfolio 2.0.

"As traditional publishers and mainstream media sources move to RSS for content syndication, and as blogs take a more serious place in the arsenal of business and academic researchers, new kinds of tools are needed to help serious consumers of information filter through the flow," said Chris Shipley, executive producer of the DEMO Conferences. "By combining RSS aggregation, Web information management, and personal publishing into a single product, Onfolio 2.0 is uniquely positioned to help PC users stay on top of the information that matters in their profession."

"We created Onfolio to give Internet users a powerful tool for managing information found online, and, with this new release, we have created a truly complete offering," said J.J. Allaire, CEO of Onfolio. "While the first version of the product enabled users to actively collect information by searching information online, Onfolio 2.0 adds a powerful way to have important information come to them through the RSS reader, giving users a single interface to manage all of their Web research."

Onfolio lets users capture and annotate links, pages, snippets of text, images, and documents (including PDF files) from the Internet and organize them in collections. Users can even capture an entire Web site for future reference or for offline access and fine-tune the depth and types of content that get captured. Onfolio integrates seamlessly with the user's browser and with Outlook to capture e-mail, and it can exchange reference data with EndNote, a bibliographic product popular with academics and researchers. In addition, Onfolio folders can be published to a blog at regular intervals, and individual items can be sent to a blog from Onfolio's RSS news reader and from Onfolio collections.

For its 6-minute presentation at DEMO@15, Onfolio showed an example of how the product would be used by an investment banker who is researching at least six to eight things simultaneously and has to move quickly. Onfolio provides an integrated research tool that lets an investment professional keep current and organize and share data quickly.

A prerelease version of Onfolio Professional is available for free download at http://www.onfolio.com. Onfolio will be available in April 2005 for purchase in two editions—Onfolio Professional Edition at $99.95 and Onfolio Personal Edition at $29.95. A promotional upgrade rate will be available for Onfolio 1.0 users and beta testers. The Professional version adds enhanced capture and searching capabilities, deeper levels of organization, and publishing capabilities. Onfolio Professional also makes it easy for a workgroup to collaborate on research.

Onfolio is based in Cambridge, Mass. The company was founded by a group of experienced professionals from software firms in New England including Macromedia, Allaire, Silverstream, and Akamai.

This is a fairly crowded market, with many options available to users needing Web information management tools (and who doesn't?). Other research tools with widely varying capabilities include Furl (acquired last fall by LookSmart), Copernic, Seruku, SurfSaver, ContentSaver, Keepoint, and Net Snippets.


Paula J. Hane is a freelance writer and editor covering the library and information industries. She was formerly Information Today, Inc.’s news bureau chief and editor of NewsBreaks.


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