Bookmarks as guideposts
Blink.com seeks sites related to your interests
by Rob MacKay '89
the frenetic pace on the information superhighway continues to speed
up, David Siegel '83 (right) has developed a way for users to keep
their eyes focused on the road and peeled for new facts. His www.blink.com
helps its members organize their preferred bookmarks and searches
the Internet for new information they might want or require.
"This was sort of an invention of necessity,"
says Siegel, an electrical engineering and computer science major
who built an autonomous robot from scratch for his senior thesis.
"I'm an avid Web guy, and I noticed that no matter who you
were, your bookmarks were always scattered. So I thought, 'Wouldn't
it be great to have a site that could organize all of a person's
bookmarks and serve as a programmable search engine at the same
Founded in the summer of 1999, Blink's free service
allows members to organize bookmarks and contact information in
a private, password-secured account that is accessible from any
computer. (There is wireless access, too, so Blink can be reached
from any spot on the planet.)
Then, a related bookmark finder drives for the
user while he or she coasts down the highway, automatically locating
new sites related to the existing ones in the Blink folder. "Basically,
you can go to sleep, and wake up with the answers to your questions,"
In addition, Blink allows users to share bookmarks,
either privately, with a select group of friends or business partners,
or with the entire Blink community. Some members advertise their
bookmark collection as a kind of social lure on the Web site's homepage.
"The added capabilities mean that, for example,
businesspeople working in groups can share bookmarks, making collaborations
easier," says Siegel, who earned a Ph.D. in computer science
from M.I.T's Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. "Users can
also annotate or color code their bookmarks. The organizing options
are basically endless."
There are also some gimmicky aspects of the Blink
business. Members get points for finding new sites, for instance.
These points can add up to prizes. Also, users can get paid for
driving traffic to their sites. "We've carved a unique niche.
In most cases, a Web site is a final destination. For example, if
you surf to cnn.com, you probably want to stay there and read the
news," says Siegel. "But ours is just the beginning. People
go to us to go to other sites."
Siegel estimates that Blink has 1.4 million members
living in almost every country in the world. As such, the business
manages more than 100,000,000 bookmarks. In June 2000 the Manhattan-based
enterprise launched a Japanese subsidiary which features a specially
designed site for the wireless Web service.
The company seems to be growing with each blink
of Siegel's eye. Is this what he started out to do: "Sometimes
I wonder if all the headaches and hassles of starting a company
were worth it," he says. "My friends have told me that
it doesn't matter what the outcome is, what counts is that you were
part of the first wave of net innovations. Well, I guess that's
true, but I certainly wouldn't want to repeat that sentiment to
Rob MacKay, is an editor at Timesnewsweekly, a
weekly newspaper in Queens, New York. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.