The web on your HDD

So, there’s a new startup out there, that’s operating under the idea that it’s useful to have locally cached versions of the web. The startup’s name is Webaroo, and there’s an article here about them. Now, I’m not sure whether it’s just because I’m not their target demographic, or what, but this seems like a rather short-sighted business. Basically, they’re operating under the assumption that you’d like to hold a subset of the web on one’s computer or laptop to carry around, view, and search while away from an internet connection. This sort of thing seems all well and good for things like Wikipedia, but what about things that are updated daily or hourly with new content. Personally, this content tends to have greater value to me. And, at the same time, I’m mostly able to access this whenever I want because I almost always have access to a net connection. Even if I were digging through more stable, established content, what if I happen to want to wander into an area that isn’t archived? What about the vast quantities of content that are just sitting on my drive not being used, ever?Additionally, what about copyright? Is this company planning to cover all the copyright issues for distributing all the content that would be included in the local web archives? The main advantage I could see for this is that one could buy a pre-loaded hard drive with much of this content on it, but this seems frought with content ownership problems.Additionally, in the long term, this business idea seems to be one that might only be useful for another few years as internet connections become more and more available. Even airlines are evaluating providing WiFi during flights, and most hotels, even those in the middle of nowhere, seem to provide net access. Their response to this problem is rather hand-wavy, stating that they’d perhaps have to do better in searching content. How, though could a locally stored copy on a hard drive do better than distributed databases housed by companies like Google? Unless disk bandwidth gets much better, I don’t see this as being faster. It’s like the dot com bubble all over again :-)Ah, well, perhaps I’ll be wrong and Webaroo will take over the universe, but I’d be willing to bet money that they won’t last that long, or only will be met with limited success.

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