Feeling Snipi


There is an interesting trend on the web (that I may be the last one to notice) of tools to save your search results. The purpose of these tools to is to do what bookmarks where invented to do, but to do so more effectively. The idea is that by putting useful or representative pieces of the pages you found onto some page or set of pages, you can get back to them easily, share them with others, etc. The number of such tools is growing. There is the Google Notebook, of course. And the Yahoo! Search Pad and EverNote. And now something called Snipi.

Snipi (which is in private Beta, in which I am not enrolled) is a FireFox plugin that seems to be geared toward collecting and sharing media. It has provisions for making lists of items found on shopping sites (the video used Amazon), of generic images, and of videos. Lists can be made private, shared with friends, or made public. You can add notes to any item you select, and share photos and videos (though, oddly, not shopping results) through Facebook, Twitter, or WordPress. And yes, there is an iPhone app coming.

It seems like an interesting start, but it appears to be more of a content collection/sharing/broadcast tool rather than a search support tool. One problem is that it doesn’t seem to handle regular text documents. And then, of course, there is no integration with search engines. On the other hand, Yahoo!’s Search Pad also only allows you to save results, but doesn’t seem to link it back to search. (Disclaimer: I only watched the video, and couldn’t figure out if the feature is live or just a demo.) Google Notebook also lets you create notes around links, but does not support transitions to search.

My interest in these tools is the degree to which they are useful for exploratory search and collaboration over search results. In that regard, Snipi is useful because it had rudimentary support for collaboration, but nothing like SearchTogether or HeyStacks.com that Alan Smeaton commented on.

Interestingly, I’ve been using OneNote since it was recommended, and quite like it for organizing results and notes. Sharing notebooks is easy within a network, but requires a SharePoint server otherwise. The interface is way better than web-based UIs, and it’s a lot easier to make sense of all my notes. But while OneNote has decent search within notes, it still doesn’t connect well to web-based search engines. Of course another limitation of OneNote is that it’s tied to my computer.

It’s encouraging that this space is growing in terms of the number of product offerings, but it’s frustrating that progress is erratic.