Infomancy n. 1.The field of magic related to the conjuring of information from the chaos of the universe. 2.The collection of terms, queries, and actions related to the retrieval of information from arcane sources.

WebNotes annotates and shares in a new way

December 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.

9 Responses to “WebNotes annotates and shares in a new way”

  1. teacherninja Says:

    I would love to try this out. I’m a teacher and a grad student working on a Media Specialist degree and have yet to find an online annotation tool that works for me. This sounds like it’s right up my alley. Thanks.

  2. Christopher Harris Says:

    I got an e-mail from Maggie Tsai, one of the co-founders of Diigo, asking me to post the following comment because it was being eaten as spam.

    Thought you and your readers might be interested to check out Diigo pioneers the social annotation technology. I think it would be fair to say that Diigo is the most popular and robust web annotation, research & collaboration tools on the market today.

    For educators, we have even especially designed an educator account, a suite of features that makes it incredibly easy for teachers to get their entire class of students or their peers started on collaborative research using Diigo’s powerful web annotation and social bookmarking technology.

    Specifically, once approved for a Diigo Educator Account

    * A teacher can create student accounts for an entire class with just a few clicks (and student email addresses are optional for account creation)
    * Students of the same class are automatically set up as a Diigo group so they can start using all the benefits that a Diigo group provides, such as group bookmarks and annotations, and group forums.
    * To protect the privacy of students, student accounts have special settings which only allow their teachers and classmates to contact them and access their personal profile information.
    * Ads presented to student account users are limited to education-related sponsors.

    If you are an educator, we’d like to invite you to apply for a free Diigo Educator account at

    Diigo has been a pioneer and innovator in social web annotation. You will see us continue to innovate — a lot more are forthcoming – stay tuned!


    Maggie Tsai

  3. Christopher Harris Says:

    Thanks for the comment about Diigo, Maggie. Great to see more sites recognizing the special needs (and great potential) for educational use. I had great success with Diigo, and love the annotation and sharing that goes along with the bookmarking on your site. Seriously, though, the toolbar that takes over and keeps coming back after every update is really annoying.

  4. teacherninja Says:

    Thanks for the invite to WebNotes–and now I have invites to share as well.

    This looks great because I care more for the annotation aspect more than the social networking aspect and Diigo is blocked by my districts filtering, so I’m unable to use it at school. WebNotes even works with Google’s Chrome! Nifty.

    Thanks again.

  5. Justin Says:


    I’m teaching 5th graders how to summarize and annotate information using tools from the web. I was planning on using Diigo, but like you said in your post, Web Notes is a clean and neat tool…perfect for the elementary age student.

    Any invites left?

  6. Christopher Harris Says:

    Invite on the way, Justin. You might also want to check out the new Diigo for Education that Maggie spoke about in her comment. Diigo is more focused on the bookmarking with some annotation added in, but it might be interesting to see what they have for education-focused offerings.

  7. Mark Says:

    I would love an invite to this service. As a student I’ve been looking for something like this forever!

  8. Lamar Says:

    IT coordinator for med univ dept. I know it’s late but looking for Webnote invite.

  9. Alex H. Says:

    Haven’t been by lately, but I got a note from my web host that someone needed the label :).

    I am happy to say that I am using Diigo in three courses this semester and have really enjoyed it. There are still some rough edges in terms of usability, but generally it’s a really great resource. I encourage folks to give it a try.