I’m Underwhelmed by Google Notebook

This morning, via Steve, I read about Google Notebook. It’s a new lightweight, free research tool from the people who want to own everything you ever think or do. Here’s the official line from the Google Mothership:

  • Clip useful information.
    You can add clippings of text, images and links from web pages to your Google Notebook without ever leaving your browser window.
  • Organize your notes.
    You can create multiple notebooks, divide them into sections, and drag-and-drop your notes to stay organized.
  • Get access from anywhere.
    You can access your Google Notebooks from any computer by using your Google Accounts login.
  • Publish your notebook.
    You can share your Google Notebook with the world by making it public.

I’ve just given it a trial run, and I’m pretty underwhelmed. It’s basically Writely with less functionality and a Firefox extension. In a richly-hyperlinked world, do we really need to grab bits of information off pages? I feel much more comfortable bookmarking the item I’m interested in (whether that be a whole page or permalink), and therefore always seeing the information in context when I need it.

I made a quick public notebook about buying pants. Like so many other Google apps, the design is functional but butt ugly (see above screenshot). I was also dismayed that I couldn’t manually insert hyperlinks into notes–I have to use the rich text editor. Speaking of which, we all know that I could use a spell checker. How about one built into Notebook?


  1. Darren
    There are many uses for grabbing info off a page versus just the hyperlink. For one thing, pages may go down. But more then that, sometimes you want the context or ability to see that information in another context.

    A long page of recipes might have one recipe I’m interested in…it doesn’t mean I want to load up that page to get that recipe again, I just want to copy the one I’m interested in. Or when doing job searches, etc. It makes sense to be able to collect bits of information and have it organized.

    I agree with you that more could have been done but the speed of use and ease of adding bits of data to one place I can access easily anywhere is a great core feature that I think many people will enjoy using.

    Covered it here:

  2. Have you ever tried Clipmarks?
    If you thought that the GNotes concept sounds nice, Clipmarks is the one you should use!

    Let’s compare GNote to Clipmarks:

    Here is what I see that Google’s new product does:

    1) Creates a bookmark to the page that you were on when you did the notebook thing.

    2) Takes whatever text you had highlighted at the time and makes that sorf of “your notes” about that page that is now bookmarked in their system.

    3) Allows you then to go in and edit those notes to add your own text, or whatever. With a little html-like editor.

    4) Allows you then to go in and look at all your notebook items in the typical Google ugly fashion.

    5) No Tagging

    6) No Community

    Meanwhile, the Clipmarks featureset is completely different:

    1) Allows you to clip many pieces from one site or page, or several sites or pages and make them together into ONE NEW PAGE.

    2) Allows you to tag these entries for later search retrieval, sharing, networking, etc. Tagclouds help you to find interesting tags easily.

    3) Allows you to then quickly and easily send those clippings into a set of “bookmarking” sites like Delicious, etc.

    4) Provides an absolutely beautiful, fast, fabulous in every way UI to go and look at your clippings, search them, etc.

    5) Provides a great commenting and popping system to foster actual social interaction around your clippings.

    6) Provides a way to subscribe to an RSS feed for a tag or a person.

    7) Provides a way to make Clips public or private.

    8) Lets you subscribe to other Clipmarkers (“Follow”), to have a quick access to their Clipmarks.

    9) Provides a print function that really rocks and let you print out pages which originaly can’t be printed well because of design errors. Due to the fact that you can clip content from different or multiple pages in one Clipmark, printing was never been easier.

    10) All of this is completely integrated into your browser.

    Go to http://clipmarks.com and test it! You will love it!

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