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December 1st, 2008

fireflyI have just stumbled on an interesting annotation technology called “firefly.” I’ve installed it on my blog, so you can see it in action here on this home page. It allows you to enter comments anywhere on my site. It scratches the surface of what is possible in terms of adding interactive features on any site on the Internet:

1. You install it by dropping in two small tags into your site (e.g., it requires very limited technical abilities)
2. You can authenticate and administer your site on their site

However, I am somewhat doubtful that this service will take off in its present form, mostly because of user interface issues. You can’t see the comments with clicking on the box on the bottom. The comments are more like graffiti than conversation.

I see several interesting possibilities for the future of this kind of technology. It would be nice to have a complimentary toolbar implementation, like reframeit.com, so that users could leave comments on any site. (This service lets any user leave on particular sites.) It could be integrated with services like facebook connect to create conversations among friends. And of course, the model could be used for a wide range of possible interactive features that go beyond the current widgets and toolbars that are available and widely used currently.

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