After taking my first light stab using Google’s new Sidewiki, I’m definitely interested in it as a community tool but also completely confused by the purpose of it as well.
The Interesting Part
Obviously, it’s interesting that Google is engaging in this type of community-building project. They’ve ramped up social networking efforts with Google Reader and real-time search in recent weeks, but they clearly fall on the side of social networking this time with Sidewiki without buying another company out to do it (e.g. YouTube, Blogspot and Feedburner).
The last time I checked, a wiki was something members of a community worked on collectively to improve the quality and accuracy of online content. Sidewiki does nothing of the sort.
Instead, it acts more like a commenting system. You are allowed to add comments after logging into your Google account, but are not allowed to edit the content that other members contribute.
Yes, it’s semantics, but that’s really the difference between Sidewiki being more like Wikipedia or a news sharing site, like Digg.
I can’t say I either love or hate this thing, but it sure is interesting…and confusing. The real test of time will be how useful user contributions are to the content on a website and how easy it becomes to access this content once Google makes it a part of its other applications including its web browser, Google Chrome.