Collaborative annotation of web pages is something many people are working on. The newest entrant in the field, Fleck, is launching tonight at the TechCrunch party in New York. The Fleck team hails from Amsterdam.
The service is clearly in its infancy but could be just what some people are looking for. The basic idea is that one person can place notes on top of a web page and other people can view, change and add to those notes at any time. It’s got standard features like movable notes and bullet points, page histories and the ability to email a unique URL to an annotated page. The URLs are Fleck URLs, not the URL of the page you are annotating. The system is remarkably easy to use and relatively easy on the eyes.
Here’s a sample of Techcrunch.com with some notes I’ve added with Fleck. You should be able to make your own changes, save them and get a unique URL to share. That functionality is reminiscent of Instacalc, the wiki-like calculator I reviewed earlier this month.
This is a relatively crowded space, the two services I’m most familiar with for collaborative annotation are TrailFire and Diigo. Stickis is just around the corner too. Fleck’s primary point of differentiation so far is that anyone can use it without creating an account or installing a browser plug-in. That could make all the difference. Other annotation services generally have a higher barrier to adoption by casual users. The primary barrier to using Fleck is that it only supports Firefox – hopefully that will change soon, because accessibility is what the service really has to offer so far.
I can imagine myself quickly adding questions to pages on a site I’m reviewing and emailing those annotated pages back to a company. They could respond immediately on the page, with no need to download anything or start an account with the annotation service. I like that. I also like that those collaborators would have a list of all the pages we’ve collaborated on created for them automatically. Fleck is even easier annotation than the similar service AmberJack is easy site tour creation.
There’s a long list of features that Fleck aims to roll out in time, including photo integration, arrows, multi-language support and Pro accounts with premium features. If they can make this a more fleshed out service while retaining the incredible simplicity it offers now, Fleck could grow into a particularly solid contender in the web page annotation space.