Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Kutano - Combining Twitter and Google's Sidewiki into one App

As I mentioned in my post about Google's SideWiki -- they also opened up their API to allow others to create applications that use comments left in SideWiki.

I received the below email yesterday (Tuesday) morning from a Marketing Manager at Kutano:
I came across your post about Google SideWiki and wanted to let you know that this morning we are expecting to release what we believe to be the very first Sidewiki client ever!

Our tool, Kutano, already works as something of a "SideTwitter", showing tweets about each web page and website directly beside the page and allowing for conversations and comments on the page as well. However, as of early this morning (10AM), Kutano will also be pulling in "high quality" comments that are made in Google's Sidewiki.

The advantage of this, aside from being able to collectively view web page related tweets, Sidewiki and Kutano comments in one place, is that Kutano will also allow users to respond to and start interactive discussions around comments made in Sidewiki. Currently, Sidewiki comments are not threaded and there is no way to respond and engage another person that commented on the web page. Additionally, there is not yet a way to have multiple discussion topics on one page. But using Kutano, people will be able to engage in more interactive and topic-varied discussions about each web page using Sidewiki comments as well as existing web page related tweets and Kutano comments. As can already be done with existing Kutano discussions, users will also be able to tweet out entire discussions as well.
I didn't have time yesterday to test it out, but I have this evening.

First the technical requirements:

Kutano claims that it works on Firefox 3 with Windows (x64 or x86 of XP and above), MacOSX, or Linux. And with Internet Explorer 7 or 8 (32-bits) with Windows (x64 or x86 of XP and above)

I am using it on Firefox 3 with MacOSX.

The Kutano Experience

As a Twitter Application

Kutano creates a fully functional Twitter sidebar on your browser, as can be seen below, but the arrow button in the lower right minimizes the sidebar. Two of the buttons to the right of the textbox are "Tweet about this page" and "insert current page URL". For both Kutano creates its own shortened url for the page. For the former it also adds the text "Reading __Page Title__"

Alone, these are nice added features.

As a SideTwitter

In the above image you can see all the tweets for my recent Wordless Wednesday post. The one tweet from my TransDutch account which automatically tweets every blog entry. Occasionally some of my posts get a little more TwitterLove, but to illustrate the features better, I went to

Now I am looking at all the Discussions for CNN. The yellow boxes near the bottom of the panel represent comments pulled in from Google's SideWiki application. The other comments are from Kutano. The numbers in the icons indicate how many posts in each discussion thread.

The email I received from Kutano also indicated Google's API for SideWiki allows them to pull in the comments from SideWiki to use in their App. However, it doesn't provide a mechanism to send comments in the other direction. So discussions that take place on Kutano remain on Kutano.


I don't see myself getting involved in too many side-discussions about a page. Unless of course discussions form around my blog, or any other websites I maintain. I expect most people who have a comment about my blog to post it in the comment threads, or email me. However, not every website has a place to leave comments.

I remember a time not too long ago, back when I was in college and frequented the Usenet bulletin boards, where these discussion threads would have been more appealing to me.

For me the benefit of SideWiki (and Kutano) is the ability to leave notes on a page that otherwise doesn't provide a means to do so. (A blog that doesn't allow comments, or a normal web page without a discussion forum.) The note may provide more information the page doesn't already contain -- or indicate any inaccuracies I feel are there.

I do like the ease of use of Kutano as a Twitter application.


Jasia said...

I'm with you John. I don't see much use for Sidewiki on blogs since most already offer a place to make comments. But Sidewiki is a great "after market" option for leaving comments on web sites that don't typically allow for comments. As a web designer, I really like idea. As a blogger, it's more or less a "who cares?"

John said...

I don't look at SideWiki from either the blogger or Web designer perspective. I look at it from the Reader perspective.

I often come across inaccurate or incomplete information on the web.

But it is also important for web designers and bloggers to be aware that people "might" be leaving comments on their pages in a place they can't see.