Monday, October 1, 2012

A Way to Annotate a Webpage

One of the most frustrating things for me about conducting research online is that there's so much copying and pasting--or jotting things down in a notebook long-hand. I'd love to have some way to annotate my thoughts right on the website I'm reading--highlight things that stand out, stick "post-its" with notes, etc.

And now I've found a way to do just that.

You must go and check out Note that it's just one "b" in there--not "scribble."

This is a free online tool (okay, you have to create an account, if you want to save your work...) that does just what I described earlier. I can highlight text on the web, create digital notes, and--most importantly--save my work in a cloud-based storage locker. You can tag pages you annotate so you can search for things that are related. (I'm picturing middle school students using this, and tagging things "science fair project" or "history paper" or "this is kewl!") I showed this to my college students last week and they sat there with their mouths hanging open for a few seconds...before half of them quickly pulled it up on their laptops themselves.

When you visit, there's a bookmarklet you can drag to your bookmarks bar. (Kinda like the "Pin it!" button you might have added if you are a pinter-addict.) Then, anytime you are browsing a page that you want to annotate, just click the Scrible button, and a toolbar loads up so you can start highlighting with wild abandon.

For those of you using iPads, it works just fine there too. The folks at Scrible have created a how-to document to help you get started.

A couple general caveats I should bring up:
  • This tool is currently in beta. (That means it's a stable release of the software, but probably not the final version.) When I used Scrible to jot some notes on a blog post I was reading, it all worked slick, and I was able to save it no problem. BUT...when I went back the next day to read it again, the formatting for the page wasn't saved exactly right. My notes and highlighting were all there, but the paragraph structure, the page colors, etc. weren't quite right. This was a one-time thing for me; all the other pages I've annotated have saved just fine. No biggie for me--I was more interested in the content--but I feel like I should warn you of this. 
  • Scrible is free...for now. A tool this great is going generate revenue for the company somehow...but at this point I don't see any mechanism for that. So, it might be ad-based (somehow?) in the future, or there may be a pricing structure released at a future date. Just want you to think about that before you get hooked...and find out you have to pay $10/month later or something.
Keeping these in mind, give it a try! Good solution to a 21st Century problem.

Kudos to my twitter-friend Terie Englebrecht (@mrsebiology) for sharing this one.

No comments:

Post a Comment