Thursday, June 01, 2006

Idea: Google search annotations and Google Co-Op

I just had an idea, and searched looked up "Google search annotations" to find prior art. Lo and behold, the relatively new Google Co-Op has it. I can't tell if this idea is the same, or if it could be implemented with Co-op, so I'll introduce it and then discuss overlap.

The basis for the idea is the following observation: when reporting a computer problem that could remotely be considered to happen to someone else, the first thing people have been asking recently is "did you search google? what did you find?".

Based on that observation, I started to wonder what if you could take the Google search results, or at least the pages that you looked at, and edit them? You could annotate the links with comments like "this link had a good example". You could even "delete" links as irrelevant to your search, although I imagine if you gave it to someone else they'd want to look through your "recycle bin" of deleted links just in case. The edits could be done on Google's servers, or somehow you could own the data yourself --- write an application or browser plugin which would copy the downloaded search page, parse it, let you edit it, and then let you send around the annotated search results.

It looks like Google Co-Op could support something like that, because it supports adding labels and comments to search results. But it also looks like it's geared for public dissemination of the results and for the tagging to be done by experts. In what I'm picturing, you would encourage people inside your company or organization to do this, and you wouldn't necessarily want those search results to be public.


Susan's Husband said...

It's been done. I will try to remember where this was, but someone had a project where you could drop annotations on any web page. These were stored on the project's server and you added a plugin to your browser which would query that server for whatever URL you were looking at to find the decorations.

You can seem something sort of like that at or (there are others). These let you store the webpages and make notes / tags on them, and then search other similar tags / notes by other users. Try searching on "social tagging" or "we tags".

jfklein said...

I've got to stop using this blog to reveal how far behind the technology curve I am :)

Social bookmarking is part of what I was picturing, but being part techie and part visual arts person, I was also imagining semi-transparent 3M Post-It style annotations added to the tagged web page, as has been done with word processing documents.

jfklein said...

It looks like does pretty much what I described. I'll hopefully be posting a fuller follow up soon.