One of the highly touted benefits of WestlawNext is the ability to annotate your Westlaw search results. Did you know that you could do something similar, for free, on your Google search results? The tool is called Google SideWiki and it is brought by a toolbar that you can download here.
What exactly is Google Sidewiki? In a nutshell, taken from the intro page, the tool allows you to:
Publish helpful information
about any web page right in your browser
Read insights in context
from Sidewiki entries added by others
Share Sidewiki entries through
Blogger, Facebook, Twitter and Google profiles
In other words, its a Wiki that engages the entire World Wide Web, or at least those running a compatible browser with the tool bar installed. Activate Google Sidewiki and you will see a sidebar containing a box in which you can add your own comments to a Web page. You can also read others’ insights on the same page. A Sidewiki-equipped page looks like this:
I love this service! While there are many uses for such a tool, I particularly appreciate that I can bookmark and annotate relevant search results, creating my own personal Web library of useful information and return to it as needed, without having to reinvent my intellectual wheel. And, if there are other entries on a particular result, I can see what others have said about the result, encouraging living discussion surrounding a particular topic. Of course, there are sharing options as well, so that you can keep your entire network informed of your valuable insights, if you so choose.
I would like to put it out there to the Google Gods that a great extension of this tool would be to permit it to work with Google Scholar results. Then, I could create a library of my own, customized (and free) legal research, complete with notes on how particular legal opinions and articles fit into my practice area. Sounds too good to be true, right? Unfortunately, for the time being, it is. But maybe, just maybe, someone from Google will stumble on my plea and deliver.