“‘Browser’ is a misnomer. You don’t just browse information. You work with it.”
In a nutshell, that’s the problem Scrible solves: when you’re doing research online, the only ways to comment on, categorize, and save information are cumbersome. (Hint: it involves a lot of copying and pasting, bullet points, and Microsoft Word docs.)
Scrible lets you highlight and add notes to webpages, then save them for future reference; you can also tag them, search on them, or email them to friends. Supported by $600,000 in grants from the National Science Foundation, it’s available as a browser extension and an HTML 5 web app optimized for iPad. Here’s my attempt using the browser extension:
I’ve never done this to a webpage before, so that part was a bit surreal; other similar services like Fluidinfo (covered previously) and commentto let you save tags or comments on sites, but not mark them up directly. But there were a few hiccups: it’s hard to highlight items other than text, and the comments stayed on my screen after I closed the tool. (To be fair, the San Mateo startup is still in public beta.)
Obviously useful for research, Scrible can also make the web a bit more interactive: I can read other tech blogs and make notes on ideas I disagree with; students can engage more with the articles they’re assigned; and designers can markup what they like and dislike about web layouts.
That’s partly the goal of cofounder Victor Karkar, who calls himself an “optimistic dreamer and an operational pragmatist”:
I believe we can do great things (provide an invaluable service, build a great company, help a lot of people), but we have to be realistic about how we get there based on our resource constraints as a startup today. We have to be cost conscious and spend our funds super judiciously. We have to hire and work with people that know that. We can’t try to “boil the ocean” by taking on too much or spreading ourselves too thin right now even though I can clearly see the future in which we…have a much wider reach and deeper impact than we do today.
Going forward, Scrible plans to make the tool more social and add a paid version with more storage space. Find them at the 2012 SXSW Accelerator as a finalist in the innovative web technologies category.