Google SideWiki

2009-10-08

Google Sidewiki: “Google Toolbar with Sidewiki is now installed in your browser”

The latest Google toolbar has this feature called sidewiki. I’m not sure if I like the idea or not, but the basic premise is that any user can post a comment on any web-page even if that page doesn’t have any comment posting capability inbuilt. The idea is that related content can be posted by visitors and other readers can see this “enhanced content” in a sidebar of their browser.

As it is created by Google Inc. the system is inherently un-evil(TM), despite the privacy issues involved, honest!

Speaking about the privacy, the idea requires that Google be notified about _every_ page you visit, even those like youporn and pornotube, revealing alot about your personal habits and tastes. All this information can possibly then be used to target advertisements at you specifically, even if they don’t necessarily know your name. The advertisers would claim this is a good thing(TM), but privacy activists claim that it’s giving too much information about yourself away making things easier for identity thieves and other wrong-doers to get their hands on this possibly vital knowledge. Another frightening thought to some is the big brother state where one corporation controls all information flow (this corporation being the “do no evil” Google).

However, anybody who has the Google toolbar installed on their system may already be sending info about every page they visit back to Google headquarters so that they can see the page rank of pages they visit. It is this page rank notification system in the toolbar that has been extended to also fetch sidewiki posts as well as the page rank.

Well, I’m going to play with it for a day or so, but I’m sure that I will eventually turn the feature off as I don’t want johnny-does-donny.com to be associated with my browser until I decide to remove the toolbar and clear my cookies and Adobe Flash data.