The death of Google Sidewiki

“Technology improves, people’s needs change, some bets pay off and others don’t. So, as Larry previewed on our last earnings call, today we’re having a fall spring-clean at Google.”

This was the statement issued on the official Google blog.

The Google Sidewiki was an ambitious project, which aimed at providing ‘Google Toolbar’ users with the privilege to comment on any website. Which is further visible to all the other users. People looked at this as Google’s attempt to control their conversations. Sidewiki was even termed ‘a failure of empathy’. It wasn’t well approved by the users, nor by the pundits. That is sorrowful. Considering, Sidewiki only tried to enable global, shared annotations of web sites. This was potentially very powerful, as most sites have no means for leaving comments, feedback, or suggestions.

Over the recent years, Google has tried repeatedly to try and make the web a better place. So, they have decided to discontinue Sidewiki and focus instead on other higher-impact products. Along with Sidewiki, Google shut down a number of products. Merging others into existing products as features. Sidewiki authors have been given details about this closure already and they’ll have a number of months to download their content. And sent an email to all of its contributors including me. The mail read:

“Dear Sidewiki contributor - You are receiving this mail because you have contributed one or more entries to Sidewiki. We have decided to discontinue Sidewiki, so we want to make sure you have a chance to export your valuable contributions. If you wish to export your Sidewiki entries, you will need to do this before December 5, 2011, after which time we’ll be discontinuing support for Sidewiki and deleting all content.” - The Sidewiki team.

A lot of heart goes to Sidewiki and for its attempt to change the way people surf the Internet mutely on daily basis. Google has always been experimenting and promoting ideas. Never afraid to try big, bold things. And that is one thing that will not be changing. They will continue to take risks on interesting new technologies that supposedly have a lot of potential. But they should target their resources more effectively to support their effort of building world-changing, innovative products.