Google Sidewiki


Google launched its new Sidewiki feature. Sidewiki opens an annotation sidebar on every Web page. Sidewiki is a Google Toolbar feature. You can leave notes (annotations) on every Web page and see notes of other people. The annotations appear is a sidebar. This is not the browser sidebar, but an extension driven page element. The feature looks quite advanced. It has rating system integrated, crowd driven spam identification, you can choose to see only annotations in your language. While posting an annotation you can send the same text also to your blogs. Of course, it is integrated with your Google profile so that people reading your contributions can learn more about you.

The toolbar sends every Web page URL to Google's annotations server. This is a technical requirement. Google informs you about it before you activate Sidewiki. Still, sending all URLs to one company is a severe privacy issue. Maybe not so much in the case of Google, because Google tracks our movement anyway through Analytics and the History feature. Anyone who runs the Toolbar with Siterank display already sends the URL stream to Google.

The protocol is a simple unencrypted HTTP Query/POST combination.

Sidewiki is NOT real virtual presence, as you do not see the people who are on the page at the same time. Sidewiki is also not a new concept. Annotations have been here before, as early as 1999. But Sidewiki it is important for virtual presence, because it shows, that a major player is moving closer. A big advantage of annotations compared to virtual presence is the fact, that contributions persist. Chats on a Web page are transient. They are gone after you leave. Annotations stay for some time. You can leave your mark in the world.

Important for virtual presence is, that Google invests in the notion, that Web pages are places. They are not just an anchor for places, like in Lively. The plain Web page identified by it's URL is a place. Can't wait for the next step.



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