One new resource that has caused a stir in the last few days is Google’s Sidewiki.
Once Sidewiki is downloaded by a user, it lets them comment on any webpage, with the comments available for anyone to view. Here’s what was published on Google’s Official blog about Sidewiki:
As you browse the web, it’s easy to forget how many people visit the same pages and look for the same information. Whether you’re researching advice on heart disease prevention or looking for museums to visit in New York City, many others have done the same and could have added their knowledge along the way.
What if everyone, from a local expert to a renowned doctor, had an easy way of sharing their insights with you about any page on the web? What if you could add your own insights for others who are passing through?
Now you can. Today, we’re launching Google Sidewiki, which allows you to contribute helpful information next to any webpage. Google Sidewiki appears as a browser sidebar, where you can read and write entries along the side of the page.
Google’s brief video explains more:
Jeff Jarvis, author of Buzzmachine, isn’t convinced. He says of Sidewiki:
Google is trying to take interactivity away from the source and centralize it. This isn’t like Disqus, which enables me to add comment functionality on my blog. It takes comments away from my blog and puts them on Google. That sets up Google in channel conflict vs me. It robs my site of much of its value (if the real conversation about WWGD? had occurred on Google instead of at Buzzmachine, how does that help me?). On a practical level, only people who use the Google Toolbar will see the comments left using it and so it bifurcates the conversation and puts some of it behind a hedge. Ethically, this is like other services that tried to frame a source’s content or that tried to add advertising to a site via a browser (see the evil Gator, which lost its fight vs publishers).
So this goes contrary to Google’s other services – search, advertising, embeddable content and functionality – that help advantage the edge. This is Google trying to be the center.
Jarvis goes on to report Twitter comments about Sidewiki and his further thoughts:
On Twitter, Google’s Matt Cutts says: “@jeffjarvis points taken, but if it gets larger group of people to write comments on web, that can be good. Plus API allows data to come out” And: “@jeffjarvis and I do see one very nice use case where people can add their comments about scammy sites, e.g. work-at-home scams.”
Points taken as well. It would enable sites without commenting functionality to get comments, including negative comments. In the case of a spam site, OK, that could be useful. But that could also include attacks that one now must monitor (watch out, Google: every story about Israel and race and Obama and health care will attract venom that affects my site but is not under my control).
I don’t think this was done maliciously at all. I think Google didn’t think through the implications.
Have a look at Sidewiki and decide for yourself. Perhaps only time will tell how people will use this new application.
Another nifty little tool from Google. Installation of the Sidewiki tools also installs a whole lot of other Google functions. I can see that I will be needing a larger screen to handle all of these new functions!
I must believe that this is a VERY BAD thing, unless Google will be tracking and verifying identities of all individuals and then providing that information to anyone committing slander and/or libel. It is bad enough that “anonymous users” can post on places like the rip off report, now Google wants to enable this type of capability on an actual companies website? OK, while I do agree there are companies that deserve to be trashed on their own site, particularly scammers and spammers, the fact is this could easily be used by competitors to tarnish each other, or by any other person by malicious intent.
I just see those with a negative intention using this method of “sharing” much more than those with positive or neutral sharing motives… without “real people” verification of what is being posted, this is just a disaster waiting to happen.
You can block Sidewiki or claim it if you are the owner of the website. It would benefit website owners who don’t already have a commenting system. At the moment not many people know about it. Most Sidewiki appears only on major websites and only on the homepage. It would be interesting if more people start to use it as a common thing, it would then be useful deep in websites commenting posts and ads and news where you can’t normally post comments.