Many commerce sites and a lot of product review sites have a function that lets you save products you think you want in a "wish list." (This includes CNET--see our Want It feature.) For people getting married, we know of this list as the registry. Sites such as Crate and Barrel, BabyCenter, and Amazon let you set up gift registries or wish lists for any event. The problem is that these registries are for products available on those stores only. If you want to create a list of products or services from around the Web, you've got to do it another way.
Here's one way: Use the new Web 2.0 site Wishlistr. This simple site lets you collect things you want, from physical products to intangibles, into one universal registry you can share with your friends. Practically, Wishlistr is not much different from a bookmarking engine such as Del.icio.us, and it even has a simple "bookmarklet" that you can install in your browser's toolbar to make collecting items easier.
It's a handy tool to collect wanted items for yourself, and it would not be a bad idea to send the Wishlistr link to people for whom you have a hard time finding gifts. (Mother, I hope you are reading this.)
Store-based registries, though, have big advantages to both gift givers and getters: Purchases made via those registries are easy (the recipient's address is already on record), and they're tracked, so people won't mistakenly buy an item that somebody else already has. For Wishlistr to work best as a gift helper, it's going to need deeper integration into the multitude of registries on store sites. Since the goal of any store is to sell items by whatever means possible, it would make sense for online stores to partner with Wishlistr to make this happen.
However, since Wishlistr doesn't use any radical or even (as far as I can tell) protectable technology, I would not be surprised to see Wishlistr competitors popping up, and with them, a profusion of "add to my list" buttons on all the store sites that are trying to make it as easy as possible for potential buyers to save links back to their items. I'm going to keep an eye out for that.