Google Sidewiki - Danger, says Jeff Jarvis

tags: search, edge

Google is trying to take interactivity away from the source and centralize it. This isn’t like Disqus, which enables me to add comment functionality on my blog. It takes comments away from my blog and puts them on Google. That sets up Google in channel conflict vs me. It robs my site of much of its value (if the real conversation about WWGD? had occurred on Google instead of at Buzzmachine, how does that help me?). On a practical level, only people who use the Google Toolbar will see the comments left using it and so it bifurcates the conversation and puts some of it behind a hedge.

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Jeff Jarvis asks if Google has applied the “Don’t be Evil” test to Sidewiki.

Announced today, Sidewiki lets folks leave comments about web pages. If you’re using the Google Toolbar (or, eventually, Chrome) you can see and add these comments to any web page. Page creators or domain owners have no influence on Sidewiki comments – though verified domain owners can place the first comment.

There is an API, and Sidewiki comments are available as RSS feeds.

I see two issues here. The first is the iFrame problem – why I object to the Digg bar and HootSuite and any other tool that puts their nav bar across the top of pages and obscures URLs. As a site owner, I resent Google’s influence on the context my posts appear in.

The other problem here is with fragmenting the conversation. Should Sidewiki take off, I will be spending time curating Yet Another Comment System – this one at Google’s instigation. And with Sidewiki, there’s no recourse against spam, defamation, lies, etc. – all of which now appear right beside my content.

That’s three big strikes against what Sidewiki aims to do. Not an auspicious start.

Is it just me, or is Google starting to creep you out?