November 30, 2009

Google SideWiki– Any opinions on a concept I have some concerns about…

Hello tech experts? Google Sidewiki has justGooglke Sidewiki appeared helpfully in my google toolbar. I didn't select this option, and it it seems to have default installed itself, which to be honest is a bit of a concern.

But there does seem to be a catch: people can create Google accounts and then 'sidewiki' about essentially any web page they like? That seems to be the idea. So anything you dont like about something, you can just whack it up there, and its all controlled by google?

Is that really a good idea? Take for example this blog, or any other site that I could write about, or design. Essentially there is a space, out of my control, which people can then edit and post on. Not really a great idea in my opinion, especially given the concerns ofver freedom of speech and informaiton on the internet.

Look at googles image (right)- this sounds like such a helpful piece of kit. But is it really going to be used like this (just read the comments).

To quote the venerable Techcrunch:

Will this work? It’s unlikely that websites will have the same visceral reaction today that they did to Third Voice a decade ago. And Google solves the chicken-and-egg problem nicely by building this into Toolbar. The real question is whether they can control spam, which has plagued SearchWiki. And I guess the other real question is, how long until they put ads in it?

I wonder what implication this has for things like university websites, and subscription sites etc. I'm sure its fine if you a large multinational, but I have serious concerns about something that someone can post over my own site.

Take this blog for example: someone could post my personal details alongside the blog. A disgruntled colleague or patient could use it for destructive purposes. Im not comfortable with it, I don't like it, and Im not sure I have the option of refusing it for this or any other website that I currenly have. Perhaps this is an over reaction. Perhaps it isn't. As per techcrunch: spam, spam, spam, abuse, and advertising! What is to stop a large organisation spamming a competitor?

What is to stop unscrupulous organisations spamming patient information sites about what the best drug is for a condition? I'm not convinced that a reputable site (like the World Health Organisation) should have Google sponsoring some form of sidewiki on it. I just dont agree with it in principle, and it is a gut reaction.

Not a great day for democracy? What are the opinions of anyone else out there. I would be particularly pleased to hear comments from industry insiders, medical professionals, and anyone who hosts their own website or blog.


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