WebNotes annotates and shares in a new wayDecember 10th, 2008 by infomancy
Sure, you are reading this now, but will you remember the immensely important key points I might be about to make? There are a number of online applications that help users make notes about information they find on the web, but some of the additions to newcomer WebNotes are quite intriguing.
Being able to highlight and annotate pages is nothing new, but the ease with which this and other tasks is accomplished using the WebNotes extension for Firefox is quite refreshing. After a bit of playing around thanks to an invitation from ReadWriteWeb this morning, the most notable thing about WebNotes is their attention to small details. I must confess that my favorite feature so far – and the one that will probably lead to my leaving this installed for easy access on the occasions where it would be a very useful tool – is the ability to show or hide the extension/toolbar with a single click of the icon in the navigation toolbar area. Other sites (*cough* Diigo *cough*) just get to be so annoying with a toolbar that takes over after every update despite my constantly turning it off. I appreciate WebNotes giving me an easy way to access their toolbar during those times when it will be needed, and then easily hide it when I am not annotating.
So what else does the tool do? The standard mixture of sticky notes, highlighting, and organization are supplemented by a few ideas that make WebNotes especially nice for schools and libraries. After annotating an article or other content, a teacher could use WebNotes to create a permanent link to the marked-up page that could be shared with students. Or, students could use WebNotes accounts to annotate pages and share them with the teacher as an assessment of note taking skills (hint: highlighting the whole page is a fail).
Another way to share is the WebNotes daily report tool. Users can create PDF or HTML renditions of their sticky notes and highlights from around the web collected onto a single page. Since you can generate reports by folder, librarians could create a new folder for a reference session and then send a customer an annotated report at the end of the research help session.
So overall my first impression is very positive. This is a clean, simple application that does a small thing really well and offers some innovative new ways to interact with output for sharing. As noted above, I especially like the unobtrusive nature of the tool as it hangs out waiting for a time of need. I have to think that this is something that will be in my Firefox extension list for a while to come. If you would like to try it out, drop me a comment or send an e-mail. I have a number of invites to share for the currently restricted beta.