25. September 2009

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.

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 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 that annotations 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. That's what people want. They want to create something that persists.

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 where things happen.


The usual weblin annotation: when a "great manager" told investors, that virtual goods would not work as a business model, he proposed "annotations". What a disaster would that have been to get Google as a direct competitor. Oh right, the decision was correct, because nobody could have known. I heared that before. Being right because of not knowing seems to be a constant.

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