Google Shakes the Web Again: Sidewiki

Google is up to its innovation tricks, proving once again that it is master of Web 2.0 Interface Innovations with Sidewiki – a post-a-comment on any Web page system [and its a Wiki no less].

Google once again is proving that it is taking Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo, Twitter and the Web 2.0 horde seriously. Facebook delivers Lite, Microsoft Bing and Twitter Tweets. So Google produces Google Finance Stock Screener, Google Fast Flip, and Sidewiki all in the space of 2 months [and to say nothing of the Android OS for phones and Netbooks or ChromeOS]. All polished products and very novel in their Web 2.0 interface designs.

But all is not roses for Google. They have to set some Rules of the Road for “Sidewiki poster civility” and have a special algorithm to decide whose comments appear on the top of the wiki [its not last entry first]. Here is what Google says about ranking Web page Sidewiki postings:

” Sidewiki uses a quality algorithm and user ratings to determine the order of the entries that appear in the sidebar for a given page. The entries that are scored as being the most helpful and pertinent are more likely to display.”

Also their “Rule for Sidewiki Civility” appear to be straight forward and realistic; but I suspect that there will be problems with:
a)links to competing websites and/or vendors. For example, some one could factually post a Sidewiki comment on the Apple site saying that Dell [with link] offers a Windows 7 PC for 1/3 the price of say the MacBook. I don’t think Apple will like or tolerate such “interference”;
b) “Keep it legal” provision. This may become a headache for Google – having to patrol/monitor Sidewiki.
c)Language problems – the need to support more than English will lead to a segregation of comments unless Google Translate becomes an attached widget that allows users to quickly choose to translate from say Freench to Chinese, etc.
d)comments about the comments – currently there is no way to comment on someone elses comments. This may be prudent as it douses out any chance of Health-care-like firestorms/flamings. But Google may miss an opportunity .
e)no ability to search Sidewiki for comments on a specific page – website vendors are going to demand this pronto; they are going to want to screen comments and interface with Google’s Sidewiki “Civility Cops”.
f)No apparent monetization – real estate in Sidewiki is at a premium – Google ads just don’t ring true.
Sidewiki has huge potential for usage; but the big problem is no visible immediate monetization and the possible strife with major Website vendors. But on the uptick Sidewiki is proof that that Google is out Web 2.0-ing Apple, Microsoft, Yahoo and other big Web players – and its all in the superior interface and design though Google had strong hints from some other smaller Web 2.0 start-ups/players.

Whats Right About Sidewiki

Website vendors may hate it; but Sidewiki’s ability to right shift any web page to make room for itself as an instant sidebar commentary source – BRILLIANT! Also the Sizing of the edit area is really quite smart – it forces writers to be brief – think Twitter Tweets in size; but you can go beyond a Tweet. Also the ability to post a Sidewiki post to Twitter, Facebook, or the Web is very fine as well. And users have a spell check built-in plus the ability to resize the width of the Sidewiki – and a simple menu system. Finally, and most importantly, there is way to rate postings and report abuse – as noted this will be part of how Sidewiki ranks postings on a particular page. In sum, the interface is pretty solid right out of the gate. However, the lack of an ability to search the Sidewiki posts – this is a surprising MIA for Google.

Summary

On one hand Sidewiki will be a slam dunk in terms of Instant Popularity. But the on the other side of the ledger Website owners may be none too pleased. Think of it as a big Poster Board right next to the entrance to your most valuable Web property. But you have no control whatsoever over the content/comments etc. By sharing directly to Twitter and Facebook, Google diffuses some of these concerns [and deflects antitrust accusations as well]. But Sidewiki is still so much like allowing someone to post a big comment on the White House Lawn or Microsoft’s Redmond Headquarters Building … expect many “refinements” to Sidewiki before it flies [take on monetization widgets]. It looks to be as controverserial as Google Books; but also just as alluring.

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