Sharing files from your PC is nothing new. BitTorrent is all about sharing media files with the world, as Napster was before it. And file sharing products like Pando, eSnips, Titanize, , YouBackItUp, and many others make it possible to share other files, or even entire directories and hard drives.
So when the team from Izimi pitched me on their new PC-based file publishing system as "the future of Internet publishing," I didn't really share their wonder.
I did try to find the spark of this product over the weekend. What I found was a tool that lets you turn your PC into a read-only file server accessible from any Internet-connected computer. To be very clear: This is cool. You can share any file: photos, videos, Word documents. If you have a lot of files to share, this could save you from the hassle of uploading everything to a sharing service. You could, instead, just point people to your files on your computer. Everything you share gets its own static Web address.
I like the concept, but there are problems. For example: No access control. Once you publish a file, anyone can read it as long as your PC is turned on and running the Izimi client. Want to share wedding videos with your family and friends? Great. But if you use Izimi to do so, you also give the whole world the capability to download the movies from your PC and soak up your outbound bandwidth. Actually, there is access control: Terminate the Izimi process on your computer. Then access to your content dries up immediately.
Izimi.com is also a social network for its users, which makes finding content easy. (Too easy; see previous paragraph.) The Izimi Web site keeps a directory of all the files shared using the service. Unfortunately, the service doesn't tell you who is online, so when you click on a file you might get it or you might not; there's no way to tell beforehand.
I have other issues with Izimi's implementation. It takes too many steps to post a file, for instance. If you're posting multiple files, it's tedious. And the Izimi software is a file server only. It won't serve Web sites you design on your computer (except the most basic), and it won't make a media file streamable if it's not inherently. In other words, some files will start playing immediately (MP3s started up right away for me), but some need to be downloaded first (like AVIs). In the case of video files, which can be huge, that puts a real damper on things.
The founders acknowledged my privacy concerns and are planning to build in access controls. I'm waiting. In the meantime, if I want to share files, I'll send out private links through Titanize, or publish my media on a hosting service (like Videoegg) where I don't have to worry about my own system's limited outbound bandwidth ruining the browsing experience for my viewers.
Izimi is launching today.
See also: Tubes.