By npajank (1254261773|%a, %b %e at %I:%M%p)
Hey everyone! So Google has come out with this new add-on feature for Firefox and Internet Explorer called Google Sidewiki. This feature can be downloaded along with the Google Toolbar.
What is Google Sidewiki?
The idea behind Google Sidewiki is to allow people to contribute to web pages to help others and to learn from others who have visited a page before you. This application helps you get expert insights on important issues (such as medical issues), helpful tips as you browse, background history on topics, etc. A video is available on youtube showing how Google Sidewiki works:
This new feature allows you to have a discussion on any website by adding messages in a sidebar displayed on a given page. Thus you can view comments and insights made by other people and add your comments as well. This is how Google Sidewiki is displayed:
How to use it
When visiting a page on which someone has left a message, the Sidewiki icon will turn yellow meaning that someone has left a message for that particular site. Then, by clicking the left hand bar the comments appear. Along with the comments, Google also provides links to related content on the web.
Writing a new entry opens a subject and comment field. Along with commenting on a page, Google Sidewiki allows you to highlight text to on a page to comment on that text specifically. How cool is that!!!
Disadvantages of Sidewiki
Though I am a diehard Google fan, I thought it was important for me to mention the disadvantages of Google Sidewiki as well.
The name Google Sidewiki is somewhat deceptive in the sense that you cannot edit other people’s comments on a page. Thus is someone has provided misleading information about something through Sidewiki, it cannot be altered by a more informed person (as can be done in wikipedia).
As always, Google has an answer to this problem. Though Sidewiki does not allow editing comments Google claims that instead of posting most recent posts first, their algorithm promotes the most useful, high-quality entries.
“It takes into account feedback from you and other users, previous entries made by the same author and many other signals we developed” Google said.
Another disadvantage is that the owners of the page have no control over Google Sidewiki. In my opinion, this may create problems for Google as website owners will protest if inappropriate comments are posted on their pages (which is likely to happen). It will be interesting to see Google’s response if such a situation occurs.
My personal opinion
I believe that the Google Sidewiki is a great idea. While providing a platform for people to talk about websites easily and freely, it will also aid in searching for information, as many people will post related topics attached to their comments. Additionally, it will also let people get an idea about the general opinion about a certain website or certain information.
In my opinion, Google, as always, is moving in the right direction. Along with allowing people to “help and learn from others as you browse the web”, this new application will hopefully also make searching easier for people. Once again, kudos to Google!