Wikalong Firefox Extension

When I was in graduate school during the dot-com craze, there was an online service that allowed anyone to annotate any Web site. I think the way it worked was that you had to visit the site with a particular plugin enabled, and then you would see all the annotations that had been left behind by others. The annotations dispalyed in little pop-up windows, which were buggy and hard to read/use. The service was also pretty slow (all the information about the annotations was stored on some server that everyone had to access sites through).

Today I discovered Wikalong, a browser extension that provides a lot of the same functionality, but using a much simpler model and interface. Basically, I installled this extension in Firefox and was then able to open a new Wikalong sidebar in the browser. Whenever I browse to a Web site, the plugin checks to see if there is a Wikalong page assocated with it. If there is a page, it is displayed and I can read other peoples’ comments on what I’m looking at (and add to them if I choose). If the Wikalong page doesn’t exist, I can create one.

As you can probably guess by the name, the plugin is really accessing a wiki, where new pages have been created that are indexed to a particular URL. You can actually browse the wiki independent of the Wikalong sidebar.

Right now, coverage is spotty. I don’t know how many people are using it, but, not surprisingly, there are a lot more sites that don’t have a Wikalong page than that do. And I’m not sure how well this would scale, to be honest. If too many people got involved, the annotation pages could get really long, spammed, cumbersome. . .However, I’m interested in the possibility of a “private” Wikalong space. What if an instructor created a Course Wikalong, allowing the participants in a course to annotate a series of Web resources that were identified? The wiki behind this could be part of some larger wiki presence for the course, that ultimately captured an interesting kind of conversation about resources found/used on the Web. It doesn’t look like private Wikalong space is available yet, but someday. . .?