The next time you Google a new car or search to see if your roommate’s bug is contagious, you might find an entire community waiting to swap stories with you.
This week, Google released the Google Sidewiki, an add-on for Firefox and Internet Explorer that allows anyone to comment on the sidebar of any Web site.
I know what you’re thinking. In such an open forum, there’s bound to be a lot of useless information. Google is tackling this issue with the use of algorithms to keep the most relevant entries at the top of the page. It also takes into account your previous entries and any feedback from other users. Keep in mind that any comment you make will be applied to any site where that same text excerpt can be found.
This add-on is by no means a new discovery, but it could produce major waves with the weight of Google behind it. The potential to make the browser double as a social network for information sharing is making quite a few people feel anxious, especially bloggers who could end up loosing traffic.
In response to this concern, a Google spokesperson said “Google Sidewiki’s features complement those of existing commenting systems, and provide a way for users to share helpful information with others for sites that don’t already have commenting in place. The increasing number of sites that enable commenting shows that there is genuine demand for allowing users to engage with sites more deeply and to contribute to the Web.”
On the other hand, Google also plans to find relevant blog posts and other sources that relate to pages so that users can find helpful information more quickly. This could in turn help to drive traffic to hard-working bloggers. Only time will tell.
If it takes off, it will definitely foreshadow a heightened value of collaboration and interactivity on the web.
Do you foresee Google Sidewiki transforming the nature of the search engine? Learn more from Google’s official blog here: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/09/help-and-learn-from-others-as-you.html.