An online memory-retention service

I got an email from a company called WisdomArk today, with an invitation to try out an “alpha” service they’re testing called MemoryArk – I must have signed up for more info, which is something I do with almost every alpha or beta I hear about (I’m easily bored). The offer was for a free “premium” account for the rest of 2006 with the service, which the company says is regularly $39 (U.S.) – and if I write six posts, upload two images and invite five people to use the service, it says I “could qualify” to get the premium membership extended for life.

MemoryArk seems to want to act as an online memory-retention system for families, a way of keeping track of all those stories your grandfather tells about the war, or your mom tells about when she first met your dad, or whatever. When you set up an account (here’s a screenshot of my account page), it asks you to either answer several questions about yourself or come up with questions to ask an “interviewee” such as a family member. If you choose yourself, then it asks you to write about your first memory, your first kiss and similar key events.

One interesting feature is that when you’re posting them, it offers you the chance to search for key words in Yahoo Photos, and then attach one to your memory. The post then appears on a blog-style page, but also appears as a link on a time-line of dates, with the image coming up when you hover over the entry. I’m not sure what I think about the service yet, because I haven’t really played with it that much, but it’s an ineresting idea.

But will people pay the kind of money that MemoryArk wants them to? I’m not sure. The idea of an online repository for memories, a way of keeping track and sharing those family stories with others, definitely appeals to me (what can I say – I’m getting old), but I don’t know if it’s a business you can charge up front for. Why not sell people disk storage space for their photos and other files they want to save? Or sell ads (which the site appears to already be doing) and other related services like photo-book printing?

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