I’ve been playing around with Google Sidewiki today. It got a bit of attention when it launched a few weeks ago, but I think it was announced at the same time as Google Wave, which seems to have dominated the chatter.
A quick summary for those that don’t know. Sidewiki is a tool which is downloadable as part of the Google Toolbar for your browser. Once you have it, it allows you to post comments on any website you like…whether that website wants you to or not. You also need to have Sidewiki to see the comments that other people have made. The picture here is a screen grab of the Sidewiki comment I posted on The Naked Pheasant.

I think it’s great. You can either add a comment to the whole page, or highlight specific part of the page upon which to add your view or additional information. There’s been a fair amount of controversy. You can imagine how some brands are less than impressed with people being able to turn up and write whatever they like next to their webpage. And as far as I understand, there’s no way for a company to get comments removed or edited; they have to rely on the power of the community to vote for the usefulness or otherwise of comments posted which will ultimately rank them.

Thing is, the world of Sidewiki is really, really quiet at the moment. The vast majority of sites you visit don’t have any Sidewiki entries, and those that you might expect to attract strong views are sparsely populated. For example, the Ryanair homepage just has one entry right now. It genuinely feels a bit weird…like when you had reason to be in school out of hours and the classrooms and corridors were strangely quiet.

Sidewiki may never catch on of course. And if there isn’t a critical mass of people who have downloaded it, the lack of audience for comments will result in people being less than bothered about posting them. It’ll simply spiral down the plughole.

But like I say, I’m quite enjoying it. I’m sneaking around the internet leaving random Sidewikis on websites. And of course, unless the site owner has downloaded it themselves, they won’t have a clue that I have. It’s like a bit of secret graffiti.