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Simple

April 11, 2006

Startup called Webaroo touts 'Web on a hard drive'

The story is here.

Basically, this company will produce for you a "web pack" containing about 10,000 pages. There's a couple of points to go with this.

The article makes an estimate of the amount of information on the internet:
As Husick explains: “Let's say the HTML Web is 10 billion pages -- it's actually a little less than that -- but at 10K per page that's 1 million gigabytes, also known as a petabyte.

OK, that sounds simple enough. But he's seriously underestimating the amount of space taken up by other forms of media. There's years worth of movies, as well as enormous quantities pictures and lengthy sound recordings.

So their estimate is likely to be quite inaccurate. The other major loss is something which I've been talking about for a while. The major developments in the internet lately have all been about the ability of communities to create dynamic content. What this system does is "freeze" the internet at a particular point. Given that most of my browsing time is spent reading emails and blogs, this has no possible use for me. The power of the internet isn't all about information; it's also about connecting with others.

The other point which somebody made in the comments of the original post is about content monetization, basically adverts. Web advertisements make money for the website in two different ways. The website owner is paid for the number of page views, and the number of clicks on the advert itself. Now suppose this idea really takes off, and loads of people are downloading chunks of the internet onto their computers. How can website providers keep track of the number of hits? Every time someone reads their site from the downloaded source rather than online, the website loses a little money. This could conceivably result in many websites demanding people log in to see the content, which might be the only way round the problem. This won't be a good step for the internet.

Well, we'll see what happens.

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