Izimi: Internet Publishing for the Masses, Not Workers

izimiThere are all sorts of tools for sharing files without having to choke your email server or upload them to your own web host account. Pando supports emailing huge attachments by using a special version of BitTorrent to serve up the file in p2p fashion. Box.net, Xdrive, and eSnips provide easy upload and sharing with large amounts of cheap or free space. senduit offers a two-step process for uploading files and giving them a private URL. Titanize backs up your files to a secure online site and then allows you to share links to the backed up versions of the files.

Now there’s izimi, a download for Windows aimed at making it really easy to share anything directly from your computer to someone’s browser via the izimi website. izimi is similar to Avvenu, another Windows-only desktop install that turns your machine into a file server. These services remind me of Parakey, a web publishing tool for the masses under development by Blake Ross, one of the co-founders of the Mozilla Firefox project. They all aim at the mass market of nongeeks who want to share photos, videos, and other files on the web but aren’t necessarily interested in or aware of the latest online file storage service.

izimi suffers from a few serious drawbacks, especially if you’re contemplating using it for business purposes (which, granted, is not its target use case). Like any approach that works by turning your local machine into a server, you need to have your machine up and running any time you want people to be able to get at the files–that’s not so dependable. Also, you’re giving away precious bandwidth by letting people use it for downloads when you could save that cost by uploading shared files once to another host.

Izimi has no access control, though private URLs will be supported in the future, which means that whatever you share is available to anyone who finds it. This makes it too limited to use in many work-related situations, where you will often want to restrict access to just your colleagues or just the people working on a particular project.

The izimi website aggregates the content that users are publishing into a social network with tags, ratings, and user profiles. This could make it into a potential YouTube rival, except the fact that it’s a Windows-only download and cannibalizes your bandwidth–limiting its potential spread and usefulness.

What’s the bottom line for web workers? izimi probably doesn’t offer you a better solution than the other tools we’ve covered that make it easy to share files over the Internet. Uploading once to a service like DivShare, sharing via online backups as with Titanize, or creating a private URL with senduit all seem like better approaches for most work-related sharing tasks.

Liz Gannes contributed to this post.

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