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Google Sidewiki is about 40% of what we'd want from a proper annotation solution. It's also not a wiki. Still, 40% is something.

To use it, you unfortunately have to install the awfully large Google Toolbar. Fortunately, if you're on firefox, you can bring up customise mode, grab the useful bits out of that toolbar (sidewiki, maybe pagerank) and hide the rest.

You really don't want to have a dedicated search bar on your browser - it is much better to use firefox's urlbar for that purpose, as you can already right click on any form box, do "Add a keyword for this search", enter a word, and that bookmark will have the needed magic so if you type "word mysearch" into your location bar, it will do the same search (the same POST, really) that using the form would've done on the page. I have:

  • g is for google
  • wik is for wikipedia
  • image is for google images
  • az is for amazon
  • imdb is for IMDB
  • dof is for DofusWiki
  • kol is for KOLWiki
  • leak is for Wikileaks

and so on... wasting browser screenspace on another bar is ridiculous



Hi Pat, a non-Toolbar solution is coming soon. Curious to hear what else you'd like in that other 60% :)
I may have covered it in more detail in other
posts, but to summarise, we need:
1) For it to get the social aspect right - a second-generation-web-messageboard (a la youtube comments) isn't nearly as nice as a completely modern message/content board like Wikipedia or Livejournal, where people can have (nonbidirectional) "friends", communities, different kinds of notifications, private, public, and semipublic posts and ratings of each others posts, etc. People naturally want to organise into communities and they don't all have the same notions of what's interesting or relevant. I would be a lot more interested in annotating various web comment if I knew that my annotations could be subscribed to and accessed as an index independent of the primary indices of web content, particularly if I could have permissions.

2) I want richer/more immersive annotation - the ability to markup content inline (and have toggles to turn on/off the various friends/community/public annotations), perhaps normally browsing with just my friends annotations inline and some bar indicating additional content is available would be nice.

3) Figuring out security for all of this (an incredible pain in the butt)

4) Decentralising all of this so nobody can control it (maybe not in Google's self interest)

Some ideas about this were covered in a very recent post (and response by another Googler) on the LJ part of my blog.
I agree with much of what you've written here and will do my best to funnel the feedback to the team!


SideWiki comments

I surely understand why many webmasters don't like SideWiki and fear that competitors will use it to add comments to your site that will be as helpful as the comments that graffiti artists add to bathroom walls.

You should monitor the SideWiki comments on your own site(s) closely and act promptly on negative comments. There are now tools available that can monitor SideWiki comments for you, and alert you when new comments are posted.


Re: SideWiki comments

Your product is against the public interest. Die in a fire.