SocialBrowse, the link-sharing service that includes elements of web annotation, has launched its service to the public. When I first wrote about SocialBrowse as it entered private beta last June, I described it as a “Twitter for links”, but since then it has grown to become much more sophisticated, allowing users to leave in-line comments on articles across the web. The service is currently only available as a Firefox extension, with an Internet Explorer plugin on the way.
The site’s core functionality involves sharing links, which are distributed to your SocialBrowse friends using a Twitter-like “Follow” system. Users can view these links through the SocialBrowse homepage, a Firefox sidebar, or as tiny icons embedded on webpages. Whenever a user shares a link, a miniature version of their profile picture is embedded inline as part of the link on the page itself, so any members that visit the same site will be able to quickly see which pages their friends have found interesting.
The site has also recently incorporated an annotation system that allows users to leave comments on these links, which appear whenever you mouse over a friend’s inline icon. This feature has a lot of potential, allowing users to converse on articles across the web without having to use another site like FriendFeed or Twitter. That said, the execution still needs some work – the comment interface was a little clunky, and I had a hard time reading them on some pages because of their position on the webpage. A similar (but somewhat more robust) annotation platform is Dotspots, which launched at TechCrunch50.