Late afternoon test run of Google Notebook



So, I finally got down to about 5 tabs left in my firefox window and decided I could kill it off and restart it without really losing my place so I could get a good look at the Google Notebook plugin. First impression is that it’s fairly unobtrusive and is in the notification bar with the rest of my plugins (google mail notifier, google calendar notifier, noscript, adsense notifier and adblock…) Clicking on it gives the chance to create a new notebook and then loads a little Web 2.0 looking box complete with resize/close widgets and an Add note button and Actions menu.


The add note page is convenient in that you have an automatic link to the web page you’re visiting checked at the bottom (include a link to ……website….) Of course, you can disable the link, but it makes sense to use it. You can then quickly jot in some text describing the page and save it (or cancel.) I’ve just tried text annotations, haven’t tried copying/pasting images. After saving a note, you get a short summary of the text you entered (if any and a brief look at the web link you added.) The actions menu, gives you a good option to start a new notebook (you can juggle multiple notebooks at once…) Add a section heading, which gives a bit of a color break on the page before new entries. Or, you can use it to delete a highlighted note (one click on the item brings up a “lasso” that includes an edit box and also ungreys the “delete item” entry in the actions menu. You can also “show notebook list” which shows ALL your notebooks or go to fullpage view (which loads the google notebook web page in a browser window, or you can visit their help site.

In order to rename or share a notebook, you need to visit the full page view.

The full page view lists your notes in a big browser window with the now familiar theme of the web 2.0 services from Google. In the right hand corner there is a “make public” button, which then lets you set a username, warns you about the guidelines for publishing (part of pages?) and then once it’s done brings you back to the main interface (in my case it changed the outline color to orange from the initial light blue. There’s now a “make private” button as well as view and email, so you can see what your notebook looks like or email a link.

There’s also a print option in the web page view of the notebooks.

All in all, this is a great, handy tool for web users like me. I’ve many times left my browser open with oodles of tabs open while researching an item for days, or used something like notepad (kate under kde) to keep a list of interesting things to revisit soon. (Yes firefox supports bookmarks, but how many folders do I now have for summer vacation possibilities and there is a limiting lack of being able to tag/annotate there.

Of course, best of all, this can be accessed from any computer on earth, just log in to your google notebook account and there are your research notes on that big vacation to timbuktu…. Or make it public and show the relatives what you have in mind. The only real disappointment I have at this point comes in the area of sharing the notebook out. Given the way the calendar works… one of my expectations was the ability to “import a notebook” from someone else and then maybe even synchronize changes, in kind of a colaborative note taking sense. Let’s say two people sitting across the country want to do collaborative note taking, then you could give access to xyz user to be able to write to the same notebook. Maybe they think between google talk they’ve got the collaborative angle covered and one of the chatters can be the note taker, or maybe that’s a direction it will move.

With calendar for instance, you have the option to make everything in a calendar public (or not), or share it with specific people. That might be a nice feature here that would make things interesting. One other note (sorry for the pun…) there is a search feature in the “full page” (web site) version. The search feature currently works across YOUR google notebooks. There is an option to search all public notebooks, but that’s not currently available. It only says “Search will be available in a few days”…

All in all, neat gadget, useful, no real issues in the first run like we saw with analytics or that I saw with calendar. I suspect they’ll have a hard time fitting ads in the small popup version, but the full page version will probably have adwords on it before too long.

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